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Next Thursday, November 16, is the Great American Smokeout. The annual observance is organized by the American Cancer Society on the third Thursday of November to encourage smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day. Since smoking has become one of the key health risks among people living with HIV, the Great American Smokeout is a great opportunity to educate smokers living with HIV—and their friends, families, and care providers—about the benefits of quitting smoking.
“For people living with HIV who adhere to antiretroviral therapy (ART), smoking is a much greater threat to their health than HIV itself.” That was the finding of a recent modeling analysis looking at the risk of lung cancer death due to smoking for a person living with HIV that Dr. Richard Wolitski highlighted in a post here last month. The study, he observed, found that even when adherent to ART, those who continued to smoke were six to 13 times more likely to die from lung cancer than from traditional AIDS-related causes, depending on how much they smoked and their gender.
People who smoke, including people living with HIV, can and do quit and there are many evidence-based interventions that can assist those who wish to do so. Given the findings of this new analysis, we need to make sure that smoking screening and cessation support are a routine part of HIV care.
To learn more, start with HIV.gov’s page on Smoking and HIV.
Feeling inspired? Tips for developing a plan to quit smoking are available at Smokefree.gov. U.S. residents who want to learn more about tobacco treatment services can call 1-800-QUITNOW to connect to their state's smoker's quitline.