Texting helps monitor HIV/AIDS in Kenya

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Between May 2007 and October 2008, an experiment was conducted in Kenya that involved sending a weekly text message to patients on antiretroviral drugs to ensure they were taking their medication properly. The scheme involved 538 people who were HIV-positive and this cheap, easy way of monitoring observance produced encouraging results.

The same simple message was sent to 273 adults who had been put on antiretrovirals for the first time, asking how they were doing. At the same time, a control group of 265 patients received only the standard monitoring provided by consultations in a medical environment.

The results show that observance was at its highest among 62% of the patients receiving texts, but was only 50% among the other group.

Moreover, the viral load became undetectable among the 57% of patients receiving texts, compared with only 48% among members of the control group.

This innovative form of monitoring patients on antiretroviral drugs has the advantage of being inexpensive. Each text message only costs 3.50€, and by using these messages, a single nurse is able to monitor up to 1,000 patients.

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