Over recent years, there have been tremendous gains and improvements in HIV treatment, which have extended life expectancy and the quality of life for people living with HIV (PLHIV). Yet cigarette smoking is still excessively common in our community, and tobacco-related deaths completely outstrip HIV-related deaths.
In Australia, people with HIV smoke twice as much (24.3%1) as people without HIV (12.8%2). In Queensland almost 50%3 of people living with HIV smoke, which is 4 times higher than those without HIV.
Recent studies estimate that PLHIV who continue to smoke tobacco live 6 to 7 years less than those who have never smoked, but can regain 5 to 6 years of life by quitting4. Other research shows that every cigarette takes 11 minutes off your life5.
To support Queensland PLHIV to quit smoking and reduce tobacco-related harms, Queensland Positive People (QPP) will soon relaunch their Positively Quitting project throughout the state. This refreshed and revised program comprises a fresh new-look resource support guide containing solutions for quitting cigarettes as well as strategies for managing smoking triggers and cravings. Additionally QPP continues to reimburse costs of quitting therapies, such as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT); and in light of emerging evidence of the benefits in harm-reduction obtained through electronic cigarettes (being 95% less harmful than cigarette tobacco6) we will also support partial 50% reimbursement of the hardware items for these products (excluding e-liquid).
E-cigarettes deliver nicotine into the body without many of the carcinogens found in tobacco cigarettes. However, in Australia, only e-cigarettes without nicotine are legal to buy as the e-liquid containing nicotine hasn’t been approved as a medicine. Despite this, QPP in partnership with the University of Queensland is currently recruiting participants for a small Brisbane-based clinical trial of nicotine containing e-cigarettes as a quit smoking aid. If you reside in the Brisbane area you can sign up for the study here: https://is.gd/thrivestudy. We are also assisting the development of a larger e-cigarette trial that will be recruiting participants in 2018 in QLD, NSW and Victoria. Register your interest here http://bit.ly/2kQrQ4q if you would like to be contacted about that study when it starts next year.
QPP encourages PLHIV to consider all the new options available to help you quit smoking. Quitting is not always easy, but we are here to help.
Remember, although smoking doesn’t directly make HIV worse – and HIV medication is just as effective in smokers as it is in non-smokers –smoking tobacco (aside from loss of life years) also causes higher rates of cancer among PLHIV, along with increased lung disease, cardiovascular disease (heart and artery), and metabolic (diabetes) and body system health impacts (including lowered bone mineral density)…By quitting smoking you will substantially reduce and eliminate these risks, and you’ll be glad you did!…you’ll also save a packet of money for all the good things in life…
If you live in Brisbane, express your interest here.
Power J, Thorpe R, Brown G, Lyons A, Dowsett DW, Lucke J (2016). HIV Futures 8: Health and Wellbeing of People Living with HIV. Melbourne: Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2014. National Drug Strategy Household Survey detailed report 2013. Drug statistics series no. 28. Cat. No. PHE 183. Canberra: AIHW.
Review of Queensland Quit Smoking Support Programs. Queensland Positive People. 2016. Data on file.
Krishna P. Reddy, et al. Impact of Cigarette Smoking and Smoking Cessation on Life Expectancy Among People With HIV: A US-Based Modelling Study Journal of Infectious Diseases (JID) 2016:214 (11): 1672-1681 (1 December 2016). (Advance Access, First Published online 03 November 2016). doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/infdis/jiw430
Shaw M, Mitchell R, Dorling D. Time for a smoke? One cigarette reduces your life by 11 minutes. BMJ. 2000 Jan 1; 320(7226): 53.
McNeill A, Brose LS, Calder R, Hitchman SC. E-cigarettes: an evidence update. A report commissioned by Public Health England. Published August 2015. PHE publications gateway number: 2015260. https://tinyurl.com/qyy3rey