Current smokers with HIV have double the risk of developing bacterial pneumonia than non-smokers with HIV, but can reduce their risk by quitting, according to new research published in the open access journal BMC Medicine.

An analysis of data from 14 different studies and several thousand HIV patients found that smoking was associated with a 70 to 100% increase in risk of bacterial pneumonia, compared to non-smokers. Data also showed that stopping smoking could decrease this risk by 27%.

Because bacterial pneumonia is one of the most common and most serious infections occurring in people infected with HIV, the report concluded that HIV physicians should offer treatment and support to help their patients to stop smoking.

“[People with HIV] have substantially increased health risks compared to the general population, including risk of pneumonia,” said lead researcher Paul Aveyard of the University of Oxford. “In order to prevent this potentially life threatening lung disease we believe that smoking cessation programs should be promoted as part of HIV treatment.”

Researchers from the University of Oxford and University of Birmingham contributed to the published report.