A Multicenter Randomized Controlled Trial of Intensive Group Therapy for Tobacco Treatment in HIV-Infected Cigarette Smokers

J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2020 Apr 1;83(4):405-414. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000002271.


Background: Tobacco use has emerged as the leading killer of persons living with HIV (PLWH) in the United States. Little is known about the efficacy of tobacco treatment strategies in PLWH.

Design: Randomized controlled trial comparing Positively Smoke Free (PSF), an intensive group therapy intervention targeting HIV-infected smokers, to brief advice to quit. All participants were offered a 12-week supply of nicotine patches.

Methods: A cohort of 450 PLWH smokers, recruited from HIV-care centers in the Bronx, New York, and Washington, DC, were randomized 1:1 into the PSF or brief advice to quit conditions. PSF is an 8-session program tailored to address the needs and concerns of HIV-infected smokers and delivered by a trained smoking cessation counselor and PLWH ex-smoker peer pair. The primary outcome was biochemically confirmed, 7-day point-prevalence abstinence at 6 months.

Results: In the intention to treat analysis, PSF condition subjects had nearly double the quit rate of controls, 13% vs. 6.6% [odds ratio = 2.10 (95% confidence interval = 1.10 to 4.14), P = 0.04], at 3 months, but no significant difference in abstinence was observed at 6 months. PSF participants exhibited lower nicotine dependence and higher self-efficacy to resist smoking temptations at both 3 and 6 months compared with controls. Lower educational attainment, current cocaine use, past use of nicotine patches, and higher distress tolerance were significant predictors of continued smoking at 6 months.

Conclusions: These findings suggest a role for group therapy among tobacco treatments for PLWH smokers, but strategies to augment the durability of early effects are needed.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cigarette Smoking / therapy*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychotherapy, Group*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / therapy*