According to the US Network for LGBT Health Equity, smoking tobacco has taken over from HIV as the biggest health problem for the LGBT+ community.
Figures from the Network suggest smoking while living with HIV reduces life expectancy by a further 7.2 years than merely living with HIV. Those living with HIV can expect to have 5.1 years shaved off their life expectancy, while HIV+ smokers see that rise to 12.3 years on average.
The US Center for Disease Control has also published statistics that indicate a greater percentage of LGBT+ people in the country smokes than the average US population. 30.8% of all LGBT+ in the US smoke, while only 20.5% of the general public smokes.
The Center for Disease Control has created its Tips from Former Smokers Campaign to curb smoking among those living with HIV. This includes a hard-hitting video which stars a man named Brian who smoked for 30 years before he nearly died due to a stroke caused by smoking while living with HIV.
The Office of the Surgeon General and CDC’s Office of Smoking and Health have also responded to this rising health concern by launching their own video about smoking disparities in LGBT+ communities. This video features Dr Scout from CenterLink’s Network for LGBT Health Equity.
‘We know that approximately one million LGBT people [in the US] will die early from tobacco-related causes – we want to save those lives instead,’ said Dr Scout.
‘The first step is spreading the news that LGBT people smoke at such high rates. We’re very pleased to see the Surgeon General’s Office and CDC recognizing LGBT pride month by releasing all these resources to help us raise awareness.’
It is thought that smoking rates among LGBT+ people in the UK are also higher than among the general population – with LGBT+ women smoking more than LGBT+ men.