How is smoking related to HIV?

About one in five Americans smokes cigarettes; smoking causes one in every five deaths in the United States each year. The smoking rate is at least double among people who have human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

If you smoke and have HIV, you're more likely to get HIV-related infections, including:

  • Thrush (a mouth infection, also called oral candidiasis)
  • Hairy leukoplakia (white mouth sores)
  • Bacterial pneumonia
  • Pneumocystis pneumonia, a dangerous lung infection

Smoking when you have HIV also makes you more likely to get other serious illnesses than nonsmokers with HIV. These illnesses can make you too sick to work and can even lead to an early death. Some of the conditions you may develop include:

  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a serious lung disease that causes severe breathing problems and includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis)
  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Lung cancer, head and neck cancer, cervical cancer and anal cancer 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.