Mobile health applications for HIV prevention and care in Africa
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PURPOSE OF REVIEW: More people have mobile phones in Africa than at any point in history. Mobile health (m-health), the use of mobile phones to support the delivery of health services, has expanded in recent years. Several models have been proposed for conceptualizing m-health in the fields of maternal-child health and chronic diseases. We conducted a literature review of m-health interventions for HIV prevention and care in African countries and present the findings in the context of a simplified framework. RECENT FINDINGS: Our review identified applications of m-health for HIV prevention and care categorized by the following three themes: patient-care focused applications, such as health behavior change, health system-focused applications, such as reporting and data collection, and population health-focused applications, including HIV awareness and testing campaigns. SUMMARY: The potential for m-health in Africa is numerous and should not be limited only to direct patient-care focused applications. Although the use of smart phone technology is on the rise in Africa, text messaging remains the primary mode of delivering m-health interventions. The rate at which mobile phone technologies are being adopted may outpace the rate of evaluation. Other methods of evaluation should be considered beyond only randomized-controlled trials.
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