A systematic evaluation of mobile apps to improve the uptake of and adherence to HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis

Sex Health. 2018 Nov;15(6):587-594. doi: 10.1071/SH18120.

Abstract

Background Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, has been shown to be effective at reducing the risk of HIV infection, yet persons at-risk for acquiring HIV exhibit suboptimal uptake of and adherence to this prevention modality. Although PrEP use among all at-risk groups is low, mobile apps have been shown to increase the use of PrEP; however, it is unknown whether currently available apps have been designed with features to facilitate PrEP uptake and adherence.

Methods: The Google Play store and Apple App store were systematically searched for currently available PrEP-related apps. A qualitative evaluation was conducted on apps that met the inclusion criteria for the presence of features that can contribute to PrEP uptake and adherence, and the quality of apps was assessed using the Mobile Apps Rating Scale (MARS) tool.

Results: From the systematic search, less than 2% (11/621) of the identified apps were relevant to improving PrEP uptake and adherence. Demonstrating a moderate capacity for facilitating PrEP use, the 11 PrEP-related apps, on average, contained features that addressed two of four factors that can contribute to the uptake of PrEP, particularly features that provided comprehensive information on PrEP and resources to locate providers and clinics offering PrEP services. Findings from the app quality assessment suggested that existing PrEP-related apps are of acceptable quality (mean overall MARS score: 3.2 on a five-point scale).

Conclusion: Overall, currently available mobile apps for PrEP demonstrate some promise as potential avenues for increasing PrEP uptake and adherence among persons at-risk for HIV infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-HIV Agents / administration & dosage*
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Medication Adherence*
  • Mobile Applications*
  • Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Viral / prevention & control*

Substances

  • Anti-HIV Agents