Technology to fight AIDS

Technology exists today that can defeat HIV/AIDS without a vaccine.  In order to accomplish this we must efficiently scale up a combination of prevention, testing ,and treatment.  Using effective treatment can help individuals to live normal lives. We now know that it can also prevent transmission. Prevention by treatment can reduce the chances of infection by greater than 95%. The greatest challenge to this strategy is  implementation.

HATS – the HIV AIDS Test Screening Software improves infrastructure for care

HATS incorporates interactive elements that provide information to patients and providers. HATS automates reporting and can be used to improve delivery of HIV related care. An individual can benefit by easily finding out if they need a test. Institutions can also implement HATS to realize large savings while scaling up testing services. Without having to make large investments to grow testing programs including hiring and training new employees, HATS offers these organizations a rapid low cost alternative. In addition, it can be used to increase the efficiency of existing programs.

The 20 Percent

In the United States 20% of people infected account for creating nearly 50% of all new HIV infections. Wouldn’t it be great if we could stop those infections? The problem is that this 20% of individuals don’t know that they are infected. This doesn’t only reflect not testing individuals who report risk factors. It reflects the need to test those who don’t. Up to 25% of people who are HIV positive report no risk factors. Also, some patients may choose to not be tested because they feel uncomfortable discussing embarrassing details about their private lives.

Prevention by Treatment

When individuals are treated early their viral level can remain at very low or undetectable levels. The rate of infection highly correlates with the viral load (the amount of virus in a sample of blood) in the host. By controlling HIV with medication the infection rate is reduced by greater than 95%. To bring this to scale will require improving the process of early identification of those infected, linking them to care and effective follow up to ensure that patients continue taking their medication.

Technology to Enhance Communication

Problems often start with poor communication. The HIV/AIDS crisis is no exception. Communication is key, and the best part of using technology is our ability to connect with others. Technology can have profound effects in education, communication, and linking individuals to care.

The Internet for Education

We live in a technology age. According to Pew Research 48% of  individuals looked for health information online in the last year.  It is often the first place people turn with questions regarding health and well-being. The Internet offers an excellent opportunity for educating individuals in many ways, including healthcare. Overall, getting the right information to the right people though can be a challenge. Someone searching for health information online must be careful to filter through any misleading search results. Information provided needs to be accessible, accurate, and easily understood. Today there are a multitude of websites that enable individuals to learn more about HIV and ways to prevent the disease.

HIV Apps (or Applications) on Electronic Devices

Several applications exist that can improve communication and delivery of care. Applications that can notify individuals anonymously of an exposure to HIV or another STD enhance patient to patient communication. Patients who feel stigmatized by simply showing up at an HIV clinic for care might use technology to keep it confidential. Conventional applications which enhance communication such as instant messaging, email, or video chat can be helpful in these circumstances. Other available online applications help patients to locate HIV testing sites or AIDS care providers. Further, widgets exist to easily insert many of these applications onto other websites to reach new audiences.

HIV/AIDS Biotechnology Development for Prevention

Prophylactic devices are one of the best tools for stopping transmission by reducing exposure to bodily fluids. Recent research has investigated the use of anti-AIDS microbicides. These gel, foam, or liquid compounds can be used preventatively to selectively kill HIV after an exposure.  Researchers have also been looking for ways to embed these molecules into rings that females might insert monthly, similar to some birth control, to offer sustained protection. Currently, the microbicides are in development but not available for use.