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Smoking linked to higher viral load in HIV

4 months ago
The Hong Kong government has insisted a cigarette packaging reform is vital to discourage smoking.

Daily smoking within the last 30 days, the male gender and an advanced disease are associated with high viral load in patients with HIV, a new study shows.

Researchers used baseline information from the Viral Load Monitoring in Vietnam study, which included 636 individuals. Participants were at least 18 years of age, had confirmed HIV, were antiretroviral therapy (ART)-naïve and were eligible for receiving ART.

Participants were categorized according to their smoking habits within the last 30 days: no smoking, smoking at least 10 cigarettes daily and smoking less than 10 cigarettes daily. Other variables like alcohol consumption, transmission route and medical history were also recorded.

The sample was mostly male (62.7 percent) and at least 30 years old (72.9 percent). A total of 39.4 percent had clinical stage IV while the median CD4 count was 132 cells/mm3. Of the 636 participants, 53.0 percent were found to have a viral load of >100,000 cp/mL.

Moreover, 36.3 percent reported active smoking and 14.0 percent of this smoked more than 10 cigarettes daily. On the other hand, 20.1 percent reported active alcohol consumption with a further 6.1 percent reported having at least five bottles or glasses per event.

The male gender (p<0.001), a history of tuberculosis (p<0.001), low body weight (p<0.001), low CD4 cell count (p<0.001), a more advanced clinical stage (p<0.001) and cigarette smoking (p=0.004) were all associated to high baseline viral load.

Subsequent multivariate analysis showed that males had a higher risk of having a high viral load compared to females (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.62; 95 percent CI, 0.96 to 2.71) and those who smoked one to 10 cigarettes daily were also more likely to have a higher VL compared to those who did not smoke (aOR, 1.99; 1.15 to 3.45).

The findings thus support the growing notion that tobacco exerts negative effects on HIV patients.

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Jackey Suen, one year ago

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