Background and Rationale:: Tobacco use is common among persons living with hepatitis C (PLHC), yet little is known about their smoking behaviors and beliefs. Modern hepatitis C treatment offers a unique opportunity to intensively engage this population about other health risks, including smoking. Main Results:: Seventy-seven tobacco users (40 hepatitis C virus [HCV] seropositive and 37 HCV seronegative) enrolled in an interview study in a New York City clinic. The mean age was 51.6, 57.1% were male, 40.3% Latino, and 49.4% black. 67.5% were single and 18.2% were employed. HCV+ smokers differed from HCV- smokers in having a higher prevalence of illicit substance use, depression, and hypertension. PLHC smokers were highly motivated to quit, with 52.5% stating an intention to quit within 30 days. Most of the PLHC smokers had used cessation-directed pharmacotherapy, but almost none had tried a quitline or a quit smoking website. PLHC smokers scored higher on the intrapersonal locus of control subscale. Almost a quarter (22.5%) believed that smoking "helped fight the HCV." Conclusions:: PLHC smokers have a high burden of psychiatric and substance use comorbidity. They exhibit characteristics that distinguish them from uninfected smokers, and many harbor false beliefs about imagined benefits of smoking. They are highly motivated to quit but underutilize cessation aids. Without aggressive intervention, smoking-related morbidity will likely mute the health benefits and longevity gains associated with hepatitis C treatment. Research such as this may prove useful in guiding the development of future tobacco treatment strategies. Implications:: This is the first paper to examine, in detail, sociobehavioral correlates of tobacco use in PLHC. PLHC are recognized by the Department of Health and Human Services as a high-priority health disparities population. We are not aware of any tobacco treatment services designed specifically for PLHC. The first step in designing an intervention is defining the characteristics of the target group. Our findings will begin to address this need, and may prove useful in optimizing tobacco treatment strategies for smokers living with hepatitis C.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health