The smartphone revolution is offering a promising device to fight the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic. We’ve listed 5 HIV take a look at apps in growth that might assist folks perform at-home HIV assessments and stop the unfold of the an infection.
The COVID-19 pandemic within the final two years has demonstrated how very important fast diagnostic assessments are for holding outbreaks. A wide selection of dwelling testing kits for COVID-19 and smartphone apps sprouted to assist folks take a look at themselves and report outcomes to well being authorities.
The rising curiosity in testing kits and cellular well being (mHealth) apps might have a huge impact on different infections. For instance, HIV continues to lurk within the inhabitants, significantly in low- and middle-income international locations (LMICs) in sub-Saharan Africa.
The potential of mHealth in preventing HIV
HIV infections are at the moment incurable for the overwhelming majority of circumstances. They trigger folks to lose the flexibility to battle off infections within the deadly situation acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Methods to battle the epidemic embody lifelong antiretroviral drug regimes, common testing and medicines that forestall an infection.
The quick hazard of COVID-19 drew consideration away from HIV prevention on the top of the pandemic. This triggered many international locations to overlook their targets of getting the overwhelming majority of individuals with entry to testing and sustained antiretroviral therapies in addition to residing with undetectable ranges of HIV of their our bodies.
Nevertheless, the COVID-19 pandemic additionally offered a silver lining: the expansion of digitization in well being providers. Mixed with the hovering use of smartphones in LMICs, this opened the door to HIV/AIDS take a look at apps that might increase the quantity of individuals utilizing at-home HIV assessments and understanding whether or not they’re contaminated. This might due to this fact gradual the unfold of the virus within the inhabitants.
HIV at-home assessments can be found
None of this potential could be potential with out at-home HIV assessments. The one one accredited by the U.S. Meals and Drug Administration (FDA) is OraQuick, developed by OraSure Applied sciences, which acquired the inexperienced mild in 2012.
Within the EU, there are several at-home HIV tests available on the market, together with OraQuick, Autotest VIH and the INSTI HIV Self-Check.
HIV take a look at apps in growth to battle an infection
The expansion of digital well being around the globe implies that well being professionals can deploy a variety of instruments to help the battle in opposition to HIV. Some examples embody web sites, social media and textual content messaging.
Many individuals liable to HIV are younger people who find themselves well-versed in know-how. Trendy smartphone apps could possibly be a solution to attain out to those teams of individuals and assist them to guard themselves from HIV.
Teachers around the globe are teaming up with software program builders to design specialised apps that may assist customers order and use at-home HIV assessments, along with a variety of different features. The sector remains to be rising, however scaling up these initiatives might assist many international locations to satisfy the UN’s HIV testing and prevention targets.
We’ve listed 5 of those apps in growth under.
This U.S.-focused app is designed to advertise HIV prevention amongst younger males who’ve intercourse with males. It’s being developed in a mission led by Emory College within the U.S.
HealthMindr offers info to customers about HIV and the way they will forestall catching or spreading the an infection. It additionally lets the person order gear for HIV prevention, together with condoms and the OraQuick HIV dwelling take a look at.
Along with reminders to check for HIV, the app lets customers fill in a danger evaluation of their probability of catching HIV. It additionally lets them seek for native assets to search out assist for his or her psychological well being.
In 2020, HealthMindr was deployed in an ongoing U.S. clinical study. Based on results from a different study, HIV testing doubled in app customers liable to HIV — proof that the HIV take a look at app was serving to them to stop the unfold of HIV.
This mission started in Canada virtually twenty years in the past to supply the person with details about HIV, assess their an infection danger profile and join the person with counselors. The app additionally gives step-by-step tutorials on find out how to carry out and interpret an OraQuick at-home HIV take a look at.
Lately, the workforce behind the app have examined its utility in South Africa, the place smartphone utilization is excessive however proof for mHealth’s affect on HIV prevention remains to be low. They added content material in 5 languages masking Canada and South Africa.
According to a study in South African adults revealed in 2021, the usage of the app and self-testing for HIV in an unsupervised method was well-liked with individuals. The usage of the HIV take a look at app helped healthcare employees get individuals who self-tested for HIV on preventative or antiretroviral therapies.
Ithaka is developed in South Africa by researchers on the College of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in collaboration with Aviro Well being.
The app is designed to permit customers to self-report their HIV dwelling take a look at outcomes with no need to pay for the prices of utilizing the required knowledge on their cell phones. This may be essential for folks reluctant to make use of mHealth instruments as a result of expense of cellular knowledge use.
Ithaka guides customers as they take a look at themselves for HIV with the OraQuick take a look at. It helps them comprehend the outcomes and guides them to confirmatory testing within the lab. With the usage of gamification, Ithaka can also be geared to extend the engagement of customers with the app.
In a small study in 2021, researchers examined the utilization of Ithaka in a setting away from scientific research, which is aimed to be extra consultant of actuality than are app research tied to scientific settings. Whereas simply 22.4 p.c of the individuals reported their HIV self-tests, that is nonetheless a promising begin in comparison with different digital well being initiatives in South Africa.
This HIV take a look at app is the brainchild of a teamup of HIV consultants, human conduct specialists and laptop scientists at Columbia College in New York.
SMARTtest guides the user once they use the INSTI Multiplex take a look at, which screens for each HIV and syphilis within the blood. The app additionally helps the person interpret the outcomes: all of the person must do is snap an image of the ultimate take a look at. The picture is shipped to a server for processing, and the app tells the person whether or not they’re destructive or constructive for HIV and/or syphilis.
As well as, the app helps customers seek for close by sexual well being clinics with particular parameters similar to free or walk-in.
The INSTI Multiplex is at the moment not out there as a self-test, however the developer BioLytical is planning to use for FDA approval as each a provider-based take a look at and as a house HIV take a look at. As well as, the workforce is creating the app to be usable with the OraQuick take a look at, and is searching for grants to proceed their work in Argentina, South Africa and the U.S. state of Florida.
College School London research app
A workforce at College School London (UCL) devised this HIV take a look at app to deal with the difficulty of human errors in utilizing lateral circulate assessments for HIV, such because the ABON HIV take a look at. These errors could be problematic when working within the area with a variety of expertise ranges.
The workforce noticed that there have been many makes an attempt to automate the studying of HIV assessments, however many require the usage of a dongle or a conveyable reader. This will make it pricey and sophisticated to make use of them in impoverished areas.
To unravel the difficulty, the person of the UCL app makes use of a traditional smartphone or pill to take a photograph of the finished take a look at package. The picture is then uploaded to the app. The software program makes use of synthetic intelligence together with a trove of earlier take a look at images to detect routinely whether or not the take a look at got here out constructive or destructive.
In a study in 2021, the researchers trialed the strategy in a area pilot research in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Based on the research outcomes, the app lowered the variety of false positives and false negatives obtained when utilizing the lateral circulate HIV assessments.
The workforce targeted on HIV to start with, however they highlighted that the know-how might additionally enhance testing within the area for a variety of different illnesses.
Are at-home HIV assessments correct?
The apps on this article are all primarily based on accredited HIV assessments. When looking for at-home HIV assessments, customers ought to all the time stick to people who are accredited by the FDA, EU or different regulatory our bodies around the globe. Unapproved assessments haven’t any regulatory recognition that they supply correct outcomes.
Nevertheless, even accredited at-home HIV assessments needs to be handled as a preliminary consequence. For instance, the OraQuick HIV take a look at has round 92 p.c sensitivity in detecting HIV when it’s current. Due to this fact, customers are all the time beneficial to observe up with a confirmatory lab take a look at for HIV, which often has extra accuracy.