Mobile applications in HIV self-management: A systematic review of scientific literature

AIDS Rev. 2022 Mar 1;24(1):24-31. doi: 10.24875/AIDSRev.21000025.


Self-management through mHealth by mobile apps creates new opportunities for people living with HIV (PLHIV) for integrated and accurate management. Our study focused on current evidence on HIV selfmanagement mobile applications to identify and assess their objective, infrastructure, and target populations. A systematic review was conducted on studies that use apps to improve self-management among HIV-positive patients, using PubMed, Scopus, Embase, Science direct, UpToDate, and Web of Science databases. The search was limited to English-written articles and published in the past 10 years. A search of Google Play for Android and App Store for iOS devices was performed to find the apps identified in the included articles. Concerning the aim of this study, the target populations of 17 identified HIV-apps were found to be mainly directed at PLHIV (n = 15). Furthermore, the objectives of 17 identified HIV-apps were found to self-care, self-monitoring, and self-management (n = 7), improve medication adherence (n = 5), prevention and treatment (n = 5), adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART) (n = 4), Cognitive Behavioral Stress Management (n = 1), and support safer conception among HIV couples (n = 1). The operating system of most HIV-apps was Android (n = 15), one app for iOS and seven apps was both of them, and most apps were free (n = 19). The findings indicate that mHealth strategies for PLHIV have had a substantial positive effect on ART, drug adherence, prevention, and treatment, as well as social and behavioral problems affecting PLHIV. Even though the mHealth market needs to be regulated, it specifies that mHealth is relevant and should be used in the self-management, self-monitoring, and self-care of PLHIV.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS; Medical informatics applications; Mobile applications; Self-management; Smartphone.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • HIV Infections* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Medication Adherence / psychology
  • Mobile Applications*
  • Self Care
  • Telemedicine*