Research Spotlight: Young researchers develop new app for HIV information and resources

Salim Bakari and Brian Kwendo are rising young AMPATH researchers who are transforming HIV care using mobile technology. As AMPATH peer mentors and young pediatric researchers, they were inspired to develop a mobile app called HIVFactSheet for youth in sub-Saharan Africa after witnessing the need.

Salim Bakari (left) and Brian Kwendo (center) presenting at AIDS 2018.

Salim Bakari (left) and Brian Kwendo (center) presenting at AIDS 2018.

HIVFactSheet provides users with HIV and reproductive health information, plus direct access to support. Through the app, people can call, text or email a counselor who can offer support. And it reminds users of their appointments, all while integrating with the AMPATH care system.

“Young people living with HIV are struggling with the pain caused by stigma and the impact of false information. Many take their medication without even knowing why and when disclosure is done, some of their questions aren’t answered properly by parents/guardians or service providers,” said Brian.

Within six months of its launch, 1,439 youth downloaded the app and 168 used it to contact an online counselor, many of whom were referred to a care provider.

Salim and Brian presented their app and recent results at the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam in July 2018. Salim shares, “Our presentation stood out as one of the best innovative strategies Kenya was presenting in the conference. We hope to utilize the lessons learnt in the conference to improve and enhance the program activities.”

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