We live in a world where mobile and online resources are increasingly becoming the first point of contact for people seeking health information.
In 2015, Public Health England reported that more than 101,000 people were living with HIV in the UK and more than 6,000 people were infected with HIV that year alone.
i-sense researchers believe that there is an important role for apps and online interventions, particularly for prevention, early diagnosis, referral to care and ongoing management [of HIV].
Apps can provide an important link between technology, a person testing for or already diagnosed with HIV, and healthcare professionals. In a collaboration between UCL and Glasgow Caledonian University, i-sense researchers are developing a user-centred online pathway for HIV, called iSHOP.
The pathway starts from testing for infection through to either long-term prevention or management and engaging in care. These studies have found that the functionality of available online resources to support HIV differs widely and many fail to meet the basic health care needs of people testing for or living with HIV, such as developing confidence in their ability to conduct a self-test reliably and receiving results in a sensitive way that supports them to move forward.
It was also found that many resources create stigma around HIV and provide information that is not accurate or supported by evidence.
The Exploratory Project has had a successful year, with highlights including welcoming Human Computer Interaction Research Associate, Dr Aneesha Singh, presentations and publications at both international and national conferences, and involvement of two Masters students in projects for their dissertations.
In January 2017, the group secured further funding through a Partnership Resource Fund application, which has allowed for expanding the project scope.
The expanded scope includes integrating iSHOP with the existing, award winning, eSexual Health Clinic and linking the eSexual Health Clinic with the HIV self-test reader app being developed within i-sense. The team are currently finishing user studies and will shortly be starting software development of the new eSexual Health Clinic.