The United States National Cancer Institute's Coordinated Research Effort on Tobacco Use as a Major Cause of Morbidity and Mortality among People with HIV

Rebecca L. Ashare*, Steven L. Bernstein, Robert Schnoll, Robert Gross, Sheryl L. Catz, Patricia Cioe, Kristina Crothers, Brian Hitsman, Stephanie L. Marhefka, Jennifer B. Mcclure, Lauren R. Pacek, Damon J. Vidrine, Roger Vilardaga, Annette Kaufman, E. Jennifer Edelman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The use of antiretroviral therapy for people with HIV (PWH) has improved life expectancy. However, PWH now lose more life-years to tobacco use than to HIV infection. Unfortunately, PWH smoke at higher rates and have more difficulty maintaining abstinence than the general population, compounding their risk for chronic disease. In this Commentary, we describe a United States National Cancer Institute-led initiative to address the relative lack of research focused on developing, testing, and implementing smoking cessation interventions for PWH. This initiative supports seven clinical trials designed to systematically test and/or develop and test adaptations of evidence-based smoking cessation interventions for PWH (eg, combination of behavioral and pharmacological). We summarize each project, including setting/recruitment sites, inclusion/exclusion criteria, interventions being tested, and outcomes. This initiative provides critical opportunities for collaboration and data harmonization across projects. The knowledge gained will inform strategies to assist PWH to promote and maintain abstinence, and ensure that these efforts are adaptable and scalable, thereby addressing one of the major threats to the health of PWH. Reducing smoking behavior may be particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic given that smokers who become infected with SARS-CoV-2 may be at risk for more severe disease. Implications: This Commentary describes a National Cancer Institute-led initiative to advance the science and practice of treating tobacco use among PWH, which is now responsible for more life years lost than HIV. We describe the scope of the problem, the objectives of the initiative, and a summary of the seven funded studies. Harmonization of data across projects will provide information related to treatment mediators and moderators that was not previously possible. Stakeholders interested in tobacco cessation, including researchers, clinicians and public health officials, should be aware of this initiative and the evidence-base it will generate to advance tobacco treatment among this high-risk population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-410
Number of pages4
JournalNicotine and Tobacco Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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