Letter: Help available to quit smoking

From: Lynn Ramberg

Columbus Regional Hospital

Sadly, one in five people in the U.S. smokes. One in five deaths is attributed to smoking. These are facts we hear all the time, but did you know that smokers who have HIV have a greater risk of other diseases and complications?

HIV puts you at greater risk because this disease harms your body’s infection fighters or T-cells. If you don’t take steps to care for yourself, like quitting smoking, eventually many of your fighter cells will be destroyed, and you won’t be able to fight off other infections and disease.

If you smoke and have HIV, some of these infections can include:

  • Oral yeast infection
  • White mouth sores
  • Bacterial or pneumocystis pneumonia lung infections

Other major illnesses complicated by smokers with HIV are:

  • COPD
  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Lung cancer and many others, like neck, cervical and anal cancer

Quitting smoking is hard, but there is help out there for you. Starting July 6, there is a community cessation class. Call Lynn Ramberg, tobacco awareness coordinator at 812-375-3194 for more information. The Indiana Quitline is also free and available 24/7. There is no better time to quit. Call 800-784-8669 to get started.

If you are unsure or have never been tested for HIV, the Bartholomew County Health Department at 2675 Foxpointe Drive, Suite B, in Columbus is offering free testing June 27. Call 812-379-1555, option 1, to schedule an appointment. Appointments are required.

Please don’t hesitate to get tested and quit tobacco. A better quality of life is worth the effort. Support is just a phone call away.