What do you feel about smoking as it relates to HIV treatment and living with HIV?

Mike's Answer

It’s pretty clear the physical harm that’s being done to the body from smoking, and to be living with HIV while smoking arises even more health concerns, or at least it should. As we know, or should, HIV can affect people differently. While HIV ultimately has the same goal, regardless of the strain you carry, its sole purpose is to multiply, mutate, spread, and attack its host by infecting the immune system and white blood cells. Even when we’re on an ART regime that doesn’t mean the virus isn’t still affecting the health of our bodies to some degree. The medications alone used to treat HIV are loaded with enough toxic chemicals that affect organs such as the liver and kidneys. On top of the HIV medications we also have to factor in those who have co-morbidities and the aggressive medications used to treat those illnesses like cancer, Hep C, diabetes, etc. In some cases people may even need more medications due to persistent side effects like nausea, sleeplessness, low appetite, etc.

Living with an already compromised immune system only makes us living with HIV more susceptible to the possibilities of acquiring other illnesses. To add smoking on top of all of that is almost like a game of roulette. The thing is we know the effects that smoking has on us, even while not living with HIV. Smoking is a terrible habit to have in general. Out of every drug known to man a cigarette is the most addictive of them all. As someone who has struggled and battled with years of addiction to illicit substances and intravenous drug use, the only thing I’ve yet to overcome is smoking cigarettes. I know that smoking and living with HIV is causing more harm to my health than anything, but I’ll be honest and say I don’t have the desire to quit, yet.

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