Harm reduction is more realistic than to quit smoking for people with HIV

Harm reduction is more realistic than to quit smoking for people with HIV

In general, quitting tobacco is a goal to improve the health of any person, but when looking specifically at people living with HIV, ending this habit becomes even more important. Through various studies it has been observed that, on the one hand, tobacco has more negative repercussions on people with HIV than on those who do not have the virus, and on the other, there are more smokers among the population with HIV than among the general population.

For this reason, a recent study published in the specialized journal The Lancet HIV proposes that a harm reduction approach be used in people with HIV who smoke tobacco and cannot, or won’t quit.

According to the research team, strategies that combine drugs and behavioral therapies to quit smoking in people with HIV have had some short-term success, but very few have shown long-term efficacy. Therefore, the researchers believe that a harm reduction approach is more sensitive to this problem.

What is harm reduction?

The harm reduction approach is a way of addressing the consumption of legal or illegal drugs, in this case, tobacco, with the aim of minimizing the risks and negative consequences of such consumption, whenever people can’t or won’t stop.

For the specific case of tobacco, the researchers propose measures such as reducing the number of cigarettes per day and, at the same time, increasing the frequency of lung cancer tests, as well as better controlling cardiovascular risk factors, such as hypertension and hyperlipidemia (high levels of fat in the blood).

Since the concept of harm reduction was coined in the context of the HIV epidemic, primarily for injectable drug users and later for those who could not or did not want to use a condom, the authors of this study hope that the message can be well received by people with HIV, who are at greater risk from tobacco use.

If you want to get a free HIV test or if you have questions regarding this, at AHF Latin America and the Caribbean we can help you. Come to our closest office in your country or write to us on WhatsApp.