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To systematically review the evidence of the relation between smoking tobacco and HIV seroconversion and progression to AIDS.A systematic review was undertaken of studies to look at tobacco smoking as a risk factor for either HIV seroconversion or progression to AIDS.Six studies were identified with HIV seroconversion as an outcome measure. Five of these indicated that smoking tobacco was an independent risk factor after adjusting for important confounders with adjusted odds ratios ranging from 1.6 to 3.5. 10 studies were identified using progression to AIDS as an end point of which nine found no relation with tobacco smoking.Tobacco smoking may be an independent risk factor for HIV infection although residual confounding is another possible explanation. Smoking did not appear to be related to progression to AIDS although this finding may not be true in developing countries or with the longer life expectancies seen with highly active antiretroviral therapy.