Sex Differences in Tobacco Use Among Persons Living With HIV/AIDS: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

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Persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWH) smoke at higher rates than other adults and experience HIV-related and non-HIV–related adverse smoking consequences. This study conducted a systematic review to synthesize current knowledge about sex differences in smoking behaviors among PLWH.


Over 3000 abstracts from MEDLINE were reviewed and 79 publications met all the review inclusion criteria (ie, reported data on smoking behaviors for PLWH by sex). Sufficient data were available to conduct a meta-analysis for one smoking variable: current smoking prevalence.


Across studies (n = 51), the meta-analytic prevalence of current smoking among female PLWH was 36.3% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 28.0% to 45.4%) and male PLWH was 50.3% (95% CI: 44.4% to 56.2%; meta-analytic odds ratio = 1.78, 95% CI: 1.29 to 2.45). When analyses were repeated just on the US studies (n = 23), the prevalence of current smoking was not significantly different for female PLWH (55.1%, 95% CI: 47.6% to 62.5%) compared with male PLWH (55.5%, 95% CI: 48.2% to 62.5%; meta-analytic odds ratio = 1.04, 95% CI: 0.86 to 1.26). Few studies reported data by sex for other smoking variables (eg, quit attempts, noncigarette tobacco product use) and results for many variables were mixed.


Unlike the general US population, there was no difference in smoking prevalence for female versus male PLWH (both >50%) indicating that HIV infection status was associated with a greater relative increase in smoking for women than men. More research is needed in all areas of smoking behavior of PLWH to understand similarities and differences by sex to provide the best interventions to reduce the high smoking prevalence for all sexes.

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