People with HIV were diagnosed with COPD at a mean age of 50 years old compared with 62 for HIV-negative individuals.
The study, publishing on Feb. 18, 2020, in CMAJ Open, is the first of its kind to examine the rates of COPD among women living with HIV — researchers found the rate of COPD among women living with HIV was 54 percent higher than that of HIV-negative women.
“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 Dr. Tony Antoniou, a scientist at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s.
“We wanted to understand how common COPD is in Ontario residents with HIV because COPD is a disease that generally worsens with time, can worsen a person’s quality of life and is strongly linked to smoking,” added Dr. Antoniou, who is also an adjunct scientist at ICES, the not-for-profit research institute where the Ontario data were analyzed.
It is potentially preventable and is strongly associated with smoking. In a sensitivity analysis, the higher prevalence of smoking in people with HIV appeared to explain the higher risk of COPD in these patients.
“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,” said Dr. Antoniou.
Dr. Antoniou would next like to explore the quality of COPD care that people living with HIV are receiving. He also hopes the medical community will begin routinely considering COPD when managing people living with HIV.