HIV and Smoking: Avoid The Trigger
HIV is the Human Immune Deficiency virus, while AIDs is the disease that is caused by the virus. As such, many people use both terms interchangeably to refer to the disease that occurs as a result of the virus. There are many ways that this virus can be acquired, ranging from unprotected sexual activities, dangerous habits such as intravenous drug use to very harmless methods such as during birth or breastfeeding (in the case of pregnant women and nursing mothers who are positive for the virus). Before we understand how smoking and HIV are related, we will need to have some understanding of how the virus damages the body, and the immune system.
The immune system
The virus has different methods by which it causes harm to the body. Key among these is the way it destroys the cellular components of the immune system. This is the system that acts against any foreign particles and germ (such as bacteria) to protect us from getting sick. This system comprises of the humoral factors, which are antibodies and other chemical compounds produced by cells in the body. The other component is the cellular part of the immune system, which comprises T lymphocytes, B lymphocytes macrophages, and dendritic cells.
How the virus causes damage
The HIV virus will only thus destroy the T lymphocytes of the immune system, which express the CD4 molecule which is the receptor for the entry of the virus into the cell. This kind of damage to the immune system makes the person ‘fragile’ and more susceptible to infections. It is important to note that these people should have normal lives and should not be discriminated against, as this is just a disease like any other.
Smoking increases the risk of many ailments
Smoking will increase the risk of one getting many ailments, such include lung cancer, heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Studies have been conducted on how smoking affects the lives of people who are living with HIV. These studies have shown that when such people smoke, there are increased risks associated. These risks are more than that of smoking in the general population. Smokers with HIV would represent other outbreaks besides typical HIV symptoms.
HIV smokers have a significant chance of lung cancer
Also, the severity of these effects may be worse than in the general populace. Such include a higher risk of developing lung cancer, cancers of the head and neck, anal and cervical cancers as well as many other cancers and neoplasms. They are also more likely to develop infections, such as bacterial pneumonia and Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia which is considered an opportunistic infection.
Smoking makes life shorter for HIV positive people
When these people who have HIV smoke, they increase the chances that the antiretroviral medication they get may not work. Their chances of getting life-threatening illnesses are high since they have a compromised immune system. HIV pos singles and smoke have been estimated to have led shorter lives than HIV singles but did not smoke. Quitting smoking actually helps improve quality of life and avoid infections.