Smoking, alcohol and illicit drug use effects on survival in HIV-positive persons

Curr Opin HIV AIDS. 2016 Sep;11(5):514-520. doi: 10.1097/COH.0000000000000306.


Purpose of review: In the era of effective antiretroviral therapy, HIV-positive patients experience an increase in non-AIDS associated comorbidities. Causes of death are now more frequently associated with ageing and smoking; alcohol and drug use are strongly linked to many of these causes.

Recent findings: An almost equal life expectancy among HIV-positive people compared with HIV-negative population has been recently reported. However, life expectancy is reduced among HIV-positive smokers by at least 16 years and further reduced for people who have a history of excessive alcohol and drug use. Cohort studies report between a 1.5- and two-fold or greater increased mortality risk as a result of smoking. In a Danish population study, 61% of deaths in HIV-positive people were associated with smoking. Excessive alcohol and drug use are also elevated among specific HIV subpopulations and significantly impact morbidity and mortality. In the Veteran Affairs cohort study, moderate and excessive alcohol use increased mortality by 25-35% compared with low alcohol use.

Summary: Despite the effective therapy, smoking, alcohol and drug use have a significant role in increased mortality and reduced life expectancy among HIV-positive people. These factors need to be in continued focus for the management and care of HIV-positive people.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / mortality*
  • Cause of Death
  • Denmark
  • HIV Infections / mortality*
  • Humans
  • Life Expectancy
  • Smoking / mortality*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / mortality*
  • Survival Analysis