CDC Warns of Increased Risk for HIV-Positive Smokers

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s most recent ad campaign is a series of graphic TV ads called “Tips From Former Smokers” that outline—in gritty detail—the negative effects of smoking. They include Terrie, a 40-year-old woman diagnosed with oral and throat cancer; Amanda, a 30-year-old woman whose smoking during pregnancy resulted in a premature birth; and Brian, a 45-year-old gay man who suffered a stroke as a result of complications from smoking and being HIV-positive. (Check out his video above.)

The CDC’s outreach to the LGBT community has grown from a small rainbow ad three years ago, to one featuring a lesbian couple last year. This year’s ad features Brian’s video, with a direct message to HIV-positive persons in the LGBT community. The CDC has purchased ads in several LGBT-specific regional and national media, and is funding quitline staff training on LGBT cultural competency in many states through The Network for LGBT Health Equity.

Dr. John T. Brooks, a medical epidemiologist in the CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, explains how we now understand that HIV and smoking both exacerbate each other. “Even when your HIV is well managed, there’s still a level of chronic inflammation. This HIV-related inflammation is a risk for many of the same health problems that smoking causes. When a person has HIV and smokes, emerging data suggest there is a combined negative effect.” According to Dr. Brooks, “If a person’s HIV is under control, the risk of smoking remains and becomes a greater and often leading preventable risk for illness and death.”

The CDC’s Tips website states that HIV-positive smokers are more likely to develop HIV-related infections than a non-smoker with HIV; including thrush and Pneumocystis pneumonia, a dangerous lung infection.

If you are an HIV-positive smoker looking to quit, the CDC—and we here at G Philly—advises that you talk to your doctor or call 1-800-QUITNOW.