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Smoking may hasten AIDS development.

Smoking may hasten AIDS development

Cigarette smoking may speed the progression to AIDS in some people infected with HIV, according to scientists who studied 387 HIV-infected men, including some who were asymptomatic and others who had AIDS-related complex.

The researchers -- led by Rachel Royce, now at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and Warren Winkelstein at the University of California, Berkeley -- discovered that the cigarette smokers in this group were nearly twice as likely to develop AIDS during the 56-month observation period than were their nonsmoking counterparts.

It's possible that smokers in the study had acquired their HIV infections earlier than nonsmokers, but Winkelstein says the researchers controlled for that factor by looking at the number of CD4 T-lymphocytes in the blood, a sign of how far the infection has advanced.

"We can't be sure, but it looks like the smokers are progressing faster to disease," Royce says. Winkelstein notes that further research must confirm the link between smoking and the development of AIDS.

While chemicals in cigarette smoke initially activate the immune system, this study shows that smokers with HIV infection suffer a more rapid depletion of CD4 cells than do infected nonsmokers, Winkelstein adds.
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Author:Fackelmann, Kathy A.
Publication:Science News
Date:Jul 7, 1990
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