THURSDAY, Feb. 20, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Adults with HIV have higher rates of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and are diagnosed with the lung disease years earlier than those without HIV, a new study finds.
Smoking may be a major reason why, researchers suggest.
"As people with HIV live longer, it is important to understand how common other illnesses are to ensure that prevention, screening and treatment strategies can be developed," said Tony Antoniou, a scientist at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael's Hospital, in Toronto.
"While other factors may contribute to the development of COPD in people with HIV, our work highlights the importance of trying to help our patients with HIV quit smoking to prevent COPD in the first place and prevent further lung damage in people who are already diagnosed with COPD," Antoniou said in a hospital news release.
For the study, the researchers analyzed COPD rates among adults aged 35 and older in the province of Ontario, Canada, between 1996 and 2015. More than 40% of Canadians with HIV live in Ontario.
Compared to those without the AIDS-causing virus, people with HIV had a 34% higher rate of COPD and were diagnosed with the lung disease about 12 years earlier -- average age 50 versus 62, the investigators found.
Among women, the rate of COPD was 54% higher in those with HIV than in those without it, according to the report.
"COPD is a disease that generally worsens with time, can worsen a person's quality of life and is strongly linked to smoking," Antoniou said.
COPD affects more than 380 million people worldwide and is projected to become the fourth leading cause of death worldwide by 2030. It is strongly associated with smoking and potentially preventable, the researchers pointed out.
A higher rate of smoking among people with HIV appeared to explain their increased risk of COPD, the study authors noted.
The study was published online Feb. 18 in the journal CMAJ Open.