Download Full Text (268 KB)

Download 2011 Optimus_FAR_revised-3.2011.pdf (276 KB)


This project focused on assessing smoking behaviors and attitudes among an HIV/AIDS patient population at Optimus Health Care, the largest community health center network in Connecticut. The high rate of smoking that has been found among People Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) is an important public health concern because of the known association between tobacco use and increased risk of HIV-related illnesses. The federal government’s Health Resources and Services Administration has begun to recommend that its HIV/AIDS programs for low-income HIV+ populations (Ryan White HIV/AIDS programs) conduct tobacco cessation counseling for all patients who smoke. To date, however, most Ryan White (RW) programs including Optimus do not yet provide targeted smoking cessation programs for specific HIV+ patient populations.

In partnership with Optimus, 357 RW charts were reviewed and a sample of 43 identified smokers was surveyed in order to collect important baseline data necessary to inform the development of a smoking cessation program in these clinics. Smoking prevalence in Optimus’s HIV+ smoking population (44%) mirrored other studies that found similar rates in other HIV+ populations. Major findings from the chart review and survey included the identification of high-risk subpopulations within the total HIV+ smoking population, inconsistent documentation of smoking status in charts, levels of nicotine dependence by subgroups, motivations to quit or not quit smoking, and preferred methods of smoking cessation. The survey respondents demonstrated relatively high levels of motivation to quit, high levels of smoking-related health risks awareness, and lower levels of awareness relating to the impact of smoking for HIV+ individuals. These results further justify the need for smoking cessation interventions targeted to this population. From these preliminary findings, it is recommended that larger studies be conducted to further delineate the unique motivations and smoking behaviors in HIV+ patients.

Publication Date



Community Health and Preventive Medicine

Optimus Health Care: Smoking Cessation and HIV in a Connecticut-based Community Health Care Center