Smoking Cessation in HIV/AIDS: A Call to Action

Consider the Substantial Adverse Effects There are many adverse health effects of combining smoking with an HIV/AIDS diagnosis. Since the use of antiretroviral drugs became widespread, people with HIV/AIDS have been living much longer lives, making it critical to understand how health behaviors such as smoking and physical activity influence long-term health and quality of life. People living with HIV/AIDS who are smokers are: More likely to be non-adherent to medication. At higher risk for many AIDS-defining conditions. At higher risk of premature death. Report lower quality of life than non-smoking HIV/AIDS patients. Smokers who live with HIV/AIDS also have a higher risk of opportunistic infections and other diseases than smokers without HIV/AIDS. “The time is now for clinicians, tobacco control professionals, and researchers to work together and increase the focus on finding effective cessation strategies for people with HIV/AIDS and disseminating strategies that work.” Research Lacking on Interventions In an effort to understand what works in getting HIV/AIDS patients to quit smoking, I worked with a research assistant to examine the literature on smoking and cessation for people living with HIV/AIDS. Published in the July 2010 American Journal of Public Health, I found that the vast majority of the research looked only at the relationship between smoking and HIV/AIDS, but less than 2% of the articles examined the effectiveness of interventions aimed at preventing or reducing smoking among those living with HIV/AIDS. The accumulation of nearly 2 decades of discovery research leaves little doubt that smoking is a widespread problem and a major modifiable risk factor for disease and death in people living with HIV/AIDS. Unfortunately, we do not yet...