UT Austin and AIDS Arms to Provide Smoking Cessation Program—Counselling and nicotine replacement therapy available
AUSTIN, Texas—The University of Texas at Austin Tobacco Research and Evaluation Team is partnering with AIDS Arms to offer an innovative tobacco cessation program (known as the eTobacco Protocol) to HIV patients, delivered through the Electronic Medical Record. The eTobacco Protocol helps health care providers increase access to free, effective services that can extend and improve the quality of life for patients. The program refers patients to the state-funded Texas Quitline, which offers free tobacco cessation services, including free nicotine replacement therapy (nicotine gum, lozenges or patches) to enrolled patients. AIDS Arms is the first HIV clinic to build this electronic referral link to the Quitline's tobacco cessation services into the clinical workflow.
Tobacco use is responsible for nearly 1 out of every 5 deaths in the U.S. Smoking is a significant health issue in general but is of special concern for people living with HIV (PLWH), whose smoking rates are 2 to 3 times as high as those in the general population. Smoking acts as an immunosuppressant, making it more difficult to fight off infection. Tobacco use can also decrease the effectiveness of antiretroviral therapy.
"The purpose of the program is to offer tobacco cessation services to all individuals in Texas, especially disparate/vulnerable populations who have a higher rate of tobacco use. The Tobacco Research and Evaluation Team is happy to support an initiative that has such great promise to reach a population with great need," said Dr. Shelley Karn, program director of the Tobacco Research and Evaluation Team at UT Austin's College of Education.
The eTobacco Protocol connects eligible patients with up to five telephone-based cessation counseling sessions and two weeks of nicotine replacement therapy from the Texas Quitline at no cost to the individual. Dr. Gene Voskuhl, AIDS Arms' medical director said, "We see people living long lives when they receive health care at AIDS Arms. We also want them to live healthy lives, so we are partnering with this program to give people a chance to stop smoking. We are very pleased to be partnering with The University of Texas at Austin."
Interested patients should speak with their health provider about referral to the Texas Quitline. Health care providers interested in integrating the eTobacco Protocol into their Electronic Medical Record or other resources to help patients quit tobacco for good should contact The University of Texas Tobacco Research and Evaluation Team at 512-232-9307.