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Mobile Augmented Screening Tool to Increase Adolescent HIV Testing and Linkage to Care

Funding Source

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), R42HD088325

Project Period

5/19/16 - 8/31/21

Principal Investigator

Ian D. Aronson, PhD

Other Project Staff

Theodore C. Bania, MD; Lisa A. Marsch, PhD

Project Summary

Adolescents face combined problems of increased HIV risk, infrequent testing, inconsistent linkage to care, and a lack of prevention related knowledge. We propose to address this by developing a Mobile Augmented Screening (MAS) tool that will increase youth HIV testing through the use of a tablet-based intervention in clinical settings, and then use text messages to facilitate linkage to care for those who test positive, and deliver ongoing prevention education via text message to those who test negative.

Many adolescents and young adults at greatest risk for HIV are unlikely to have access to primary care, and therefore have limited access to HIV testing and prevention education. When young people are offered testing, many decline because they believe (perhaps incorrectly) they are not at risk or because they fear being stigmatized. Our proposed MAS will enable care providers to privately and discretely offer routine HIV testing and counseling, including prevention education, to high need, diverse adolescent populations at a low cost.

The MAS will consist of 3 components. A tablet-based intervention including a very brief video (<2 minutes) designed to increase adolescent HIV testing; automated text-messages to facilitate linkage to care for those who test positive; and text-based education for those who test negative or decline testing. All 3 components will be linked by an easy to use administrative interface.

Our team has created multiple NIH-funded interventions to increase HIV testing among patients in high volume, urban emergency departments (EDs). Patients, including those who initially declined testing, cited the privacy and clarity of our technology-based approach as reasons they ultimately agreed to test for HIV. In a recent pilot trial, we recruited 100 ED patients aged 18 – 24 who declined testing at triage. Participants completed a brief tablet-based video intervention, and after watching a short video, 30 accepted an HIV test offered by computer. Of those who accepted tests, 21 agreed to receive text messages about HIV testing and prevention for 12 weeks. Two thirds responded to texts at week 6, more than half responded at week 8.

In this Phase I STTR project we plan to develop a set of videos and text messages through an iterative development process that includes formative and mixed-methods summative evaluations.

Public Health Relevance

Adolescents and young adults face markedly increased HIV risk, yet frequently do not test. We are, therefore, developing a Mobile Augmented Screening (MAS) tool designed to increase HIV testing, and to facilitate linkage to care and ongoing prevention education via text message. This tool will help clinicians address undiagnosed youth HIV, and enable young patients to receive much needed treatment and avoid unknowingly transmitting infection. Our product is designed to help existing program staff reach an increased number of clients; and to improve public health by encouraging reluctant young patients to accept important HIV testing and care they may otherwise decline.