Prevalence and Correlates of Snuff Use, and its Association with Tuberculosis, among Women Living with HIV in South Africa

Jessica L. Elf, Ebrahim Variava, Sandy Chon, Limakatso Lebina, Katlego Motlhaoleng, Nikhil Gupte, Raymond Niaura, David Abrams, Neil Martinson, Jonathan E. Golub

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: A higher proportion of people living with HIV (PLWH) smoke compared to the general population, but little information exists about the prevalence and correlates of smokeless tobacco use among PLWH. In South Africa, dry powdered tobacco is inhaled nasally as snuff. Methods: A cross-sectional survey among PLWH attending three HIV clinics was conducted. Snuff use was assessed via self-report and urine cotinine. Results: Given the low (3%) prevalence of snuff use among men, analysis was restricted to n = 606 nonsmoking women living with HIV. Half (n = 298, 49%) were snuff users, the majority of whom (n = 244, 84%) had a positive urine cotinine test. In adjusted analysis, snuff use was negatively associated with higher education (relative risk [RR] 0.55; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.39, 0.77) and mobile phone ownership (RR 0.83; 95% CI: 0.71, 0.98), and positively associated with ever having tuberculosis (TB) (RR 1.22; 95% CI: 1.03, 1.45). In adjusted analysis, with current TB as the outcome, snuff use was marginally statistically significantly associated with a twofold increase in odds of a current TB diagnosis (odds ratio [OR] 1.99; 95% CI: 0.98, 4.15). Discussion: A high proportion of nonsmoking South African women living with HIV use snuff, which was a risk factor for TB. Additional research is needed to understand the relationship between snuff, TB, and other potential health risks. Implications: PLWH have a higher prevalence of smoking than their seronegative peers, but there is a paucity of research on smokeless tobacco use in this population, especially in low-resource settings. TB is the leading cause of death among PLWH, and with improvements to HIV treatment and care, PLWH are at greater risk of tobacco-related diseases. We report an extremely high prevalence of snuff use among women living with HIV in South Africa. Further, in this population snuff use is positively associated with ever having a TB diagnosis, as well as currently having TB.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1087-1092
Number of pages6
JournalNicotine and Tobacco Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - May 21 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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