A text message from a clinic each week resulted in better adherence and a higher level of viral load suppression among people with HIV after starting antiretroviral treatment in Kenya, a randomised controlled trial has shown.
The results were published in the Online First section of The Lancet this week. The trial was sponsored by the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
The intervention cost around 20 cents per patient each month, and would potentially allow one nurse to monitor adherence and other issues in 1000 patients each month, the researchers calculated.
Mobile phones are emerging as a new tool in health care. In sub-Saharan Africa mobile phone networks have expanded to cover much of the continent, and phone ownership is growing exponentially.
The Kenyan study is the first randomised study to test whether sending a reminder message sent to patients taking antiretroviral drugs in sub-Saharan Africa not only improves adherence, but also has a long-term effect on responses to treatment.
The study was conducted at two clinics in Nairobi (one serving a very low income area and one a more prosperous district) and at one clinic in a rural district.
full article NAM AIDS Map
Lester RT et al. Effects of a mobile phone short messaging service on antiretroviral treatment adherence in Kenya (WelTel Kenya1): a randomised trial. The Lancet, advance online publication, November 9, 2010.