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HIV vs. Smoking

By Michael Chang

HIV, or the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, has potential to affect us all, and is one of the most widespread sexually transmitted diseases there are. To make matters worse, HIV and its effect, AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) currently have no reliable cure. Fortunately, life expectancy of HIV patients can be raised to about the same length as average Americans using newly tested drugs. A drawback of this, though, is that over 40% of HIV patients smoke. Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School recently proposed that smoking may decrease the life expectancy by 6 years. Combined with the effects of HIV, the result may be lethal to users.

Cancer, a deadly form of uncontrolled cell replication, is caused mainly by mutations in our DNAs. Smoking was found to create over 150 different mutations in one’s lung cells in a single years of smoking, and your throat undergoes 97 different possible mutations. Of the 10 cancer types that may affect smokers, all of them can be terminal for HIV patients. By quitting smoking, you may reduce the chance of 6 million people dying from smoking related diseases each year. Dr. Krishna Reddy commented “A person with HIV who consistently takes HIV medicines but smokes is much more likely to die of a smoking-related disease than of HIV itself.” So the next time someone ask you if you want a cigarette, whether you have HIV or not, don’t accept it. You may lose 10 years of your life.

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