Shrestha, R., Altice, F., DiDomizio, L., Sibilio, B., Ranjit, Y., & Copenhaver, M.
Patient Preference and Adherence, January 2020. Abstract
Introduction: There has been increasing interest in the use of mHealth technology in health care. To our knowledge, however, there is a lack of empirical evidence on the utilization of text messaging services (short message service; SMS) for HIV prevention among opioid-dependent people who use drugs (PWUD). As part of our formative work, we conducted an in-depth feasibility and acceptability study on the use of SMS reminders for HIV prevention in this risk group.
Methods: Forty HIV-negative, opioid-dependent PWUD who are currently taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) were enrolled in the study. Participants received daily PrEP text reminders and weekly HIV risk reduction-related messages, which were developed using a user-centered approach. Participants were assessed at baseline and immediately post-intervention. Following the post-intervention assessment, participants completed an in-depth qualitative interview.
Results: Feasibility of text messaging service was high, as assessed by participants’ willingness to receive text messages (100%), retention (95%), and successful delivery of text messages (97%). Results further showed that participants were satisfied and perceived the use of daily PrEP reminder text messages as valuable and acceptable [mean: 75.0 (range 0–100)]. Whereas, acceptability for the weekly text messages on HIV risk reduction was 60.3 (±15.6), with 58.3% recommending them for future use. Thematic data exploration revealed important information for understanding and refining SMS content as well as logistical preferences.Conclusion: Our findings provide preliminary evidence of the feasibility and acceptability of a text messaging-based approach as a potential tool for primary HIV prevention to improve PrEP adherence and HIV risk reduction among this underserved population. HIV risk reduction text messages need further modifications to become more appealing, with participant feedback taken into consideration.