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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Brown Researchers Conduct a Longitudinal Study of Persistent Smoking among HIV-Positive Gay and Bisexual Men

Tobacco use continues to be one of the leading causes of preventable morbidity and premature mortality in the United States and is a well-recognized risk factor for chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, and cancer. In HIV-positive gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, smoking is a highly prevalent behavior that, in addition to more general adverse outcomes, has been linked to an increased likelihood of HIV-related medical complications and has been shown to negatively impact immune and virologic response. However, smoking cessation rates among this population remain low. Within couples affected by HIV, primary partners play a positive role in HIV-related outcomes.


[Photo: Dr. Kristi Gamarel]

The purpose of this study, led by Dr. Kristi Gamarel, Assistant Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences, and core faculty in the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, was to longitudinally assess smoking status in a population of HIV-positive men in same-sex relationships, and the impact of partner smoking status.

At baseline, 28 percent of participants reported current smoking. Over the two years the researchers followed participants, 90 percent of the HIV-positive men remained in the same smoking category. Men whose partners smoked and men with lower income had higher odds of being persistent smokers, whereas older men and men who identified as Latino race/ethnicity had lower odds of being persistent smokers compared to non-smokers.

Despite efforts to reduce smoking among people living with HIV, a substantial subset of men continued to smoke during their two years in the study. Findings suggest that primary partners who also smoke and low income were the strongest predictors of sustained smoking behaviors among HIV-positive men. Thus, smoking cessation efforts in dual-smoker couples may need to address both partners’ smoking at the same time in order to change behavior.

This study was published in Addictive Behaviors, Volume 66, 2016 (ahead of print).

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