According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smokers who have HIV are more likely to get the following HIV-related infections: Thrush (mouth infection); White mouth sores called Hairy Leukoplakia; Bacterial pneumonia; or a lung infection called Pneumocystis pneumonia. HIV positive smokers may also be more susceptible to get other serious illnesses like Cancer (lung, anal, neck), heart disease and/or stroke, and a serious lung disease called COPD.
Smoking and HIV shouldn’t mix, but often for many people living with HIV, they go hand in hand. I have worked with many clients who were long-term smokers before they became HIV positive and were not able to cease use after diagnosis. For some, especially those who had to adjust their lives drastically in order to accommodate a life living with HIV, did not and are never going to stop smoking. I wish there was a magic cure to make people stop, but there isn’t. Yet, it’s still possible to provide education and to work with people to help them consider harm reduction methods.
Smoking and its impact on HIV infected people is quite serious. I think it’s extremely important to help these individuals to vigorously maintain their HIV treatment. Smokers who are at least working to keep the virus suppressed, have a better chance of fighting against unwanted infections or illnesses caused by smoking
I use to be a smoker, more of a casual or “social” smoker. For me, I have been lucky because I was able to stop. If you are or anyone you know is thinking about or ready to quit smoking, here are a couple of resources: 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or smokefree.gov.