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Text messages help HIV patients stick to antiretroviral drug therapy

By Cochrane Systematic Review

Patients less likely to miss doses if they were sent weekly mobile phone text message reminders.

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Mobile phones could play a valuable role in helping HIV patients to take their medication every day, according to a new Cochrane Systematic Review. The researchers found that patients were less likely to miss doses if they were sent weekly mobile phone text message reminders.

Text messaging is increasingly being used as a means of support in health care, including to help promote attendance at clinics and hospitals, and to increase contact between patients and care workers. There is also some evidence that text messaging helps tuberculosis patients to take their daily medication. Now researchers say text messaging could be used as a tool to help millions of HIV patients on antiretroviral therapy (ART) stick to these regimens. ART can help these patients to feel better and live longer, but often comes with side-effects that make it difficult for some patients to take the medication every day. When patients miss their daily doses, it can result in the drugs no longer being effective and the patients could die.

The authors reviewed data from two Kenyan trials involving a total of 966 adult patients with HIV. In the first trial, patients were sent short weekly text messages asking “Mambo?”, meaning “How are you?”, and were asked to respond within two days. The control group in this trial received standard care. In the second trial, patients received text messages...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.