Mobile health has power to transform HIV/AIDS nursing

November 21, 2018

The abundance of personal smartphones in southern African countries got University of Washington professor Sarah Gimbel thinking: What if these phones were used by front-line health workers -- namely nurses -- to collect and analyze data on patients living with HIV or AIDS to improve their care?

Gimbel, an implementation scientist at the UW School of Nursing, tested her hypothesis and found that smartphone applications, or apps, have the potential to improve efforts to combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases both in the African subcontinent and around the world. By designing software for mobile devices, Gimbel believes that will empower nurses by putting cutting-edge tools into their hands.

"I want to get nurses more engaged in the process of analyzing and using their data," said Gimbel, who holds an adjunct appointment in the Department of Global Health.

Nurses provide care but also collect data. If they can be actively engaged in using that data, it can lead to improvements in data quality and, ultimately, better health outcomes, Gimbel said.

In a paper published in the September issue of Current HIV/AIDS Reports, Gimbel and her co-authors evaluated the current use of mobile phones and tablets in HIV-related care in low- and middle-income countries around the world. The use of this new technology in the health care system is also known as "mHealth."

The authors found that a larger selection of phone applications, or apps, are needed to improve the tremendous resources that have been provided to improve HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment. And the applications must be designed to be used by huge volumes of users, in other words, to scale.

"Scientists, researchers and practitioners increasingly are borrowing tools from engineering and bringing them to the intersection of quality improvement and health," Gimbel said.

Leveraging existing health resources - including smartphones - will help nurses work better and smarter, Gimbel said. Nearly 100 percent of the world's population lives within reach of a cellphone signal, and many nurses in developing economies are able to afford a smartphone. Smartphones can run apps to collect and transmit data of all kinds, from patient adherence information to monitoring drug protocols, and more.

Gimbel and her team focused on HIV/AIDS as opposed to other chronic conditions due to its burden and the amount of resources that have been invested to fight the pandemic. "It's our laboratory to understand how to make chronic care systems work. So HIV is our testing ground," Gimbel said. "It has a lot of commonalities with other chronic diseases."

Now, Gimbel argues, academics and industry must work collaboratively to develop scalable solutions for mHealth innovations to combat HIV and other diseases.
Co-authors include Nami Kawakyu, Hallie Dau and Jennifer A. Unger, all of the UW.

For more information, contact Gimbel at or 206-616-5064.

University of Washington

Related HIV Articles from Brightsurf:

BEAT-HIV Delaney collaboratory issues recommendations measuring persistent HIV reservoirs
Spearheaded by Wistar scientists, top worldwide HIV researchers from the BEAT-HIV Martin Delaney Collaboratory to Cure HIV-1 Infection by Combination Immunotherapy (BEAT-HIV Collaboratory) compiled the first comprehensive set of recommendations on how to best measure the size of persistent HIV reservoirs during cure-directed clinical studies.

The Lancet HIV: Study suggests a second patient has been cured of HIV
A study of the second HIV patient to undergo successful stem cell transplantation from donors with a HIV-resistant gene, finds that there was no active viral infection in the patient's blood 30 months after they stopped anti-retroviral therapy, according to a case report published in The Lancet HIV journal and presented at CROI (Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections).

Children with HIV score below HIV-negative peers in cognitive, motor function tests
Children who acquired HIV in utero or during birth or breastfeeding did not perform as well as their peers who do not have HIV on tests measuring cognitive ability, motor function and attention, according to a report published online today in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Efforts to end the HIV epidemic must not ignore people already living with HIV
Efforts to prevent new HIV transmissions in the US must be accompanied by addressing HIV-associated comorbidities to improve the health of people already living with HIV, NIH experts assert in the third of a series of JAMA commentaries.

The Lancet HIV: Severe anti-LGBT legislations associated with lower testing and awareness of HIV in African countries
This first systematic review to investigate HIV testing, treatment and viral suppression in men who have sex with men in Africa finds that among the most recent studies (conducted after 2011) only half of men have been tested for HIV in the past 12 months.

The Lancet HIV: Tenfold increase in number of adolescents on HIV treatment in South Africa since 2010, but many still untreated
A new study of more than 700,000 one to 19-year olds being treated for HIV infection suggests a ten-fold increase in the number of adolescents aged 15 to 19 receiving HIV treatment in South Africa, according to results published in The Lancet HIV journal.

Starting HIV treatment in ERs may be key to ending HIV spread worldwide
In a follow-up study conducted in South Africa, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers say they have evidence that hospital emergency departments (EDs) worldwide may be key strategic settings for curbing the spread of HIV infections in hard-to-reach populations if the EDs jump-start treatment and case management as well as diagnosis of the disease.

NIH HIV experts prioritize research to achieve sustained ART-free HIV remission
Achieving sustained remission of HIV without life-long antiretroviral therapy (ART) is a top HIV research priority, according to a new commentary in JAMA by experts at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.

The Lancet HIV: PrEP implementation is associated with a rapid decline in new HIV infections
Study from Australia is the first to evaluate a population-level roll-out of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in men who have sex with men.

Researchers date 'hibernating' HIV strains, advancing BC's leadership in HIV cure research
Researchers have developed a novel way for dating 'hibernating' HIV strains, in an advancement for HIV cure research.

Read More: HIV News and HIV Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to