App to provide critical support to those recently diagnosed with HIV

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The Washington, D.C.-based AIDS United Foundation has awarded a $525,000 grant to the University of Virginia School of Medicine to develop a smartphone app to improve care for people recently diagnosed with HIV in rural Virginia, according to an announcement.

The app will provide personalized, interactive reminders and offer access to a virtual community, the announcement states. It will also monitor treatment adherence and potential barriers to care, such as depression, so that University of Virginia staff can respond quickly and efficiently.

Depression, stigma and poverty often delay and undermine care for rural residents with HIV, according to the announcement. A year-long review found that people newly diagnosed with HIV missed, on average, 1.7 scheduled appointments before arriving at the University of Virginia Ryan White Clinic, the largest provider of HIV care in western Virginia. That delay can cause their health to worsen, increase the amount of virus in their blood and add to the chances that the virus will be spread, the announcement states.

"Strong links to HIV care will be built and reinforced with the assistance of our tailored smartphone application," said Ryan White Clinic's Dr. Rebecca Dillingham. Dillingham said the new Positive Links program is slated to begin recruiting participants this summer and "provide critical support to people recently diagnosed with HIV, so that they can make good choices about their health in this particularly vulnerable period."

In related news, a low-cost mobile device has been found to provide a blood-based HIV test with laboratory-level accuracy and real-time synchronization of patient health record data, according to an article published Jan. 17 in Clinical Chemistry, the journal of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry. Researchers say the portable solution could serve as an alternative for those in resource-limited healthcare settings that don't have access to laboratory diagnostic equipment and patients' health records.

To learn more:
- read the press release

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