Press Release: Studies show that, for people living with HIV, smoking is more harmful than HIV itself.

30th May 2019

On World No Tobacco Day 2019, HIV Ireland and Positive Now encourage people living with HIV to get informed about the health risks associated with smoking. 

Every year, on 31st May, the World Health Organisation (WHO) marks World No Tobacco Day, highlighting the health and other risks associated with tobacco use.

HIV positive people are more likely to be smokers and the smoking prevalence among people living with HIV in Ireland is significantly higher than that of the general population.  35% of people living with HIV in Ireland are current smokers[1], compared with 20% current smokers in the general population[2].  In addition, 53% of HIV positive men who have sex with men (MSM) living in Ireland are current smokers.[3]

To highlight the concerns about this high prevalence rate, HIV Ireland and Positive Now are hosting a community event on Thursday 30th May for people living with HIV and for those working in health promotion providing smoking cessation information and supports.  Supported by NiQuitin, the event aims to better inform people of the health risks associated with smoking and having HIV.

Niall Mulligan, Executive Director at HIV Ireland said: “As an organisation working to improve the health and wellbeing of people living with HIV, we have a responsibility to highlight this important issue so that people can make informed decisions about their health.  We fully support the Department of Health’s Tobacco Free Ireland policy which sets a target for Ireland to be tobacco free by 2025.”

Peter Daly, NiQuitin said “We are proud to work with HIV Ireland to support this important community initiative to raise awareness about the supports available to people to live well with HIV.”

Lysander Preston, Chairperson of Positive Now said: “We would like to thank NiQuitin for their support to the community of people living with HIV, providing us with the opportunity to highlight vital health information and supports.”

Better treatment options have changed the long-term outlook for people with HIV.  It’s important that people living with HIV get informed and educated about other health risks that can be magnified because of HIV, even if the virus itself is under control with medication.

Professor Paddy Mallon, Consultant in Infectious Diseases at St. Vincent’s Hospital, who is speaking at the event said “Cigarette smoking is one of the most harmful health concerns facing people with HIV today.  There have been several studies worldwide about the impact of smoking on people living with HIV, including increased risk of heart disease.  Quitting smoking is one of the biggest steps people with HIV can take to stay healthy and increase life expectancy.”

There are many supports currently available in Ireland to increase a person’s chances of quitting smoking successfully.

Noeline White, Smoking Cessation Officer at the Mater Hospital said “Quitting smoking is not easy. No single quit smoking method is right for everyone, but having supports available in the community can, and does, help. I commend HIV Ireland for hosting this important event for World No Tobacco Day to promote good health and wellbeing for the community of people living with HIV.”

HIV Ireland is also launching a short survey on World No Tobacco Day to determine if HIV-positive people, who are current smokers, are interested in smoking cessation supports and programmes being made available within the community of people living with HIV.  The survey can be completed here:


For further information, please contact:

Niall Mulligan,

Executive Director

HIV Ireland

70 Eccles Street

Dublin 7

Mobile:  085 7457951

Tel: 01 8733799


  1. Further information and research about Smoking and HIV:
  2. #SmokingandHIV
  3. #WorldNoTobaccoDay

[1] Smoking Behaviour among People Living with HIV and AIDS: A Sub-Group Comparison; K. Babineau, S. O’Dea, G. Courtney, L. Clancy, 2014.

[2] Healthy Ireland Survey 2018: Summary of Findings. Department of Health and Ipsos MRBI, 2018.

[3] MISI 2015: findings from the men who have sex with men internet survey. Dublin: Health Protection Surveillance Centre, 2016.