People Living With HIV

Know the Facts

If you have HIV, the virus that can cause AIDS, smoking is especially dangerous to your health. If you smoke:

  • You’re more likely to develop the harmful consequences of smoking than people without HIV. These illnesses include cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
  • You’re more likely to develop HIV-related infections than a nonsmoker with HIV. These illnesses include thrush (a mouth infection) and Pneumocystis pneumonia (a lung infection).
  • For people whose HIV is effectively treated, smoking is the main contributor to preventable risk of illness and death.

Smoking rates among persons living with HIV are much higher than in the general population. In 2009, smoking rates among people receiving medical care for HIV were more than double that of the entire U.S. adult population (42.4% vs. 20.6%).

People living with HIV are also less likely to quit smoking than the general adult population.

*Sources for cigarette smoking prevalence:
Vital Signs: Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults Aged ≥18 Years-United States, 2009. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 2010.
Behavioral and Clinical Characteristics of Persons Receiving Medical Care for HIV Infection — Medical Monitoring Project, United States, 2009. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 2014.

For More Information

  • Detailed Statistics Learn about smoking among specific populations and the current rates of cigarette smoking in the United States.

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Real Stories: People Living With HIV Featured in Tips®

Learn the real stories of people living with HIV who have diseases and disabilities related to smoking.

BrianMeet Brian. Brian, age 45, lives in California and has HIV. At 14, he started smoking. At 43, smoking, combined with HIV, caused him to have a stroke. He quit that day and hopes to regain full use of his right hand.

Learn more about all Tips participants in our Real Stories section.

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Quitting Help

To get started right now, see our How to Quit Smoking area featuring a Quit Guide website and an additional Quitting Resources page.

You can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). Quitline coaches can answer questions, help you develop a quit plan, and provide support.

Quit-smoking treatments may be free or reduced in price through insurance, health plans, or clinics. State Medicaid programs cover quit-smoking treatments. While the coverage varies by state, all states cover some treatments for at least some Medicaid enrollees.

Medicare currently covers two quit attempts per year and up to four face-to-face counseling sessions per attempt.

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Brian overcame tough health problems related to HIV, but nearly lost his life because of smoking cigarettes.

“Smoking is something that you do have control over. You can stop. And it’s worth your life to stop smoking.”