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Great new Canadian website on smoking and HIV

Thursday, 17 September 2015 Written by // Bob Leahy - Editor, Ontario HIV Treatment Network - Research Categories // OHTN OHTN/, Health, Smoking Cessation , Lifestyle, Living with HIV, Bob Leahy, Ontario HIV Treatment Network

Positive Quitting is a partnership between and the Ontario HIV Treatment Network to help people living with HIV who want to quit smoking

Great new Canadian website on smoking and HIV

From the OHTN’s Did You Know September 2015 newsletter

Working with partners including ACT, PWA, Positive Living Niagara and, the OHTN has created a brand new resource on smoking and HIV.

Quitting smoking is one of the very best things that someone living with HIV can do to protect their health. Our new website offers videos, apps, links to helplines and workshops, and loads of ideas for smokers living with HIV, AIDS service organizations and HIV clinics.

We know that people living with HIV lose more life years to smoking than to HIV itself. We also know that many people living with HIV want to quit. Let’s get the conversation about HIV and smoking started. Visit to learn more

****** Editor Bob Leahy says:

As co-chair of the Positive Quitting project, with Sean Rourke of the OHTN,iIt’s been my privilege to work with the OHTN and our other partners to bring something new to the table, something that has the potential to save lives and improve the quality of life for many people living with HIV.

As an ex-smoker myself (I used to smoke a LOT) I know that the decision to quit is a personal one, but once the decision is made, you can do with all the help you can get. That’s where this new website resource comes in. Think of it as a helping hand, a guide to facts and resources that may make quitting easier.

We on the project team, a multi-disciplinary group that includes people living with HIV, health professionals and service providers, realized at the outset that there were a number of directions we could pursue. We also recognized the reasons why people living with HIV continue to smoke long after diagnosis as I did, for reasons that make sense – at least at the time. We feel we need a crutch, we may have given up other substances but want to retain just one, and we want to cling to things we enjoy. We know of course that smoking isn’t good for us. But so are a lot of things we do in life, right? Smoking is easily rationalized. It makes sense at the time. It provides comfort in hard times. I get that.

Pre anti-retroviral therapy, i.e. before 1996, there didn’t seem much of an incentive to quit. All that has changed though as people living with HIV who do not smoke, thanks to antiretroviral therapy, can now expect to live a pretty normal life span.  But smoking changes that equation.

In looking at how best to help people who wanted to quit, we are, for now, relying extensively on connecting with existing resources. The new website we think will help to connect smokers with people who are adept in helping them quit. But we need to do more so we are also looking at the role of Positive Care Clinics and how medical professionals that people living with HIV regularly interact with might better assist those interested in exploring quitting. We are looking too at the feasibility of providing free smoking-cessation aids. Lastly we are looking at the role of smoking in the (HIV) workplace, and what AIDS Service Organizations can do to provide a supportive environment.

Just as importantly, we now have a core of people, particularly at the OHTN and here at who understand smoking and HIV well and are dedicated to help those who want to quit.

So this is the start of a journey for us – and I hope for you if you are poz and a smoker who has thought of quitting, or tried to quit before. (Believe me, I know how difficult it can be. But impossible? Absolutely not.). That’s where the new website comes in.

We like the new website. I hope you do too.

Good luck on your journey. And have a look at our new video below.

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