Smoking rates among people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) are two to three times that of the general population. Due to treatment advances, PLWHA are living longer making the issue of cigarette smoking in this population a significant clinical concern. Despite the overwhelming burden of tobacco use, few studies have evaluated the delivery of smoking cessation interventions among PLWHA. Results from the sparse literature are mixed but suggest that PLWHA are interested in quitting and can achieve abstinence, particularly when pharmacotherapy such as nicotine replacement (NRT) is utilized. However, similar to findings in the general population, adherence to NRT among PLWHA is low. Given the strong evidence that combining behavioral therapy and pharmacotherapy is more effective than either alone, and that higher rates of NRT adherence are strongly associated with an increased likelihood of smoking cessation, poor NRT adherence poses a serious threat to treatment effectiveness and may negatively impact cessation outcomes. Yet adherence to smoking cessation medication has received remarkably little attention. For PLWHA, several potential barriers to NRT adherence have been described including an already complex medication regimen and negative beliefs about NRT. In order to reduce smoking-related health disparities within this underserved population it is critical that cessation interventions be developed that include strategies to improve treatment adherence. The R34 mechanism provides a unique opportunity to refine and pilot test a theory-driven smoking cessation intervention that enhances existing behavioral approaches by testing the impact of text message reminders to take NRT and the feasibility and additional impact of including NRT adherence-focused behavioral cessation counseling. We propose to randomize 190 participants, recruited from two HIV/AIDS clinic, to a three arm study that compares: 1) Standard Care (SC), 2) SC + text message reminders, and 3) SC + text message reminders + cell phone-delivered NRT adherence-focused behavioral therapy (ABT). Participants in all three arms will receive NRT for eight weeks. The primary outcomes are adherence to NRT and biochemically validated smoking abstinence at 8 weeks and 3-month follow-up. The primary aims are: 1) to determine the feasibility and acceptability of conducting a telephone delivered cessation counseling and text message intervention among a HIV+ clinic-based population, 2) to estimate and compare the effect of three models of smoking cessation treatment on NRT adherence and smoking abstinence at end of treatment (8 weeks) and 3-month follow-up. The secondary aims are to 1) to explore the relationship between NRT adherence and smoking cessation at end of treatment and 3 months and 2) to explore potential mediators of the intervention effect on NRT adherence. We expect that findings from the proposed study will lay the groundwork for a larger randomized trial that will provide a model for how to overcome barriers to smoking cessation in this population.

Public Health Relevance

Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death in the U.S. Among persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) the burden of tobacco use is substantial with the prevalence of smoking over 50% or two to three times that of the general population. Due to treatment advances PLWHA are living longer, making the issue of cigarette smoking in this population a significant clinical concern. Yet research addressing tobacco use treatment among PLWHA is sparse. This study will provide new information about the impact of an innovative approach to tobacco cessation that addresses barriers that may make it harder for PLWHA to quit.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Planning Grant (R34)
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Behavioral and Social Consequences of HIV/AIDS Study Section (BSCH)
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Grossman, Debra
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New York University
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
New York
United States
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Tseng, Tuo-Yen; Krebs, Paul; Schoenthaler, Antoinette et al. (2017) Combining Text Messaging and Telephone Counseling to Increase Varenicline Adherence and Smoking Abstinence Among Cigarette Smokers Living with HIV: A Randomized Controlled Study. AIDS Behav 21:1964-1974
Krebs, Paul; Tseng, Tuo-Yen; Pham, Hieu et al. (2015) Formative Evaluation of a Text Messaging Intervention to Promote Varenicline Adherence Among Tobacco-Dependent Persons with HIV. J Health Commun 20:1021-5
Shelley, Donna; Tseng, Tuo-Yen; Gonzalez, Mirelis et al. (2015) Correlates of Adherence to Varenicline Among HIV+ Smokers. Nicotine Tob Res 17:968-74