A new study on HIV antiretroviral therapy (ART) shows that weekly text messages can help patients better adhere to their often complicated drug regimens.
Patients who received the weekly text reminders also had a lower viral load in their bloodstreams after one year, according to the study, which covered two trials conducted in Kenya and was published by the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.
There is high-quality evidence for the benefit of sending weekly text messages to promote adherence to antiretroviral therapy," lead author Tara Horvath of Global Health Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, said. "Clinics and hospitals should consider using weekly text messaging as a way to ensure HIV patients stick to their antiretroviral therapy regimens."
One interesting finding: Daily text messages didn't work much better than standard care, the study shows. It seems weekly reminders are enough to get patients to take their medications every day, according to researchers.
The study's authors also tested responses to longer weekly messages versus shorter weekly messages. For example, the shorter reminder message simply said "This is your reminder," while the longer reminder said "This is your reminder. Be strong and courageous. We care about you." Patients responded equally well to both types of messages, according to MedicalXpress.com.
Authors called for more research on the text-connection for ART, but in the meantime, encouraged clinics and hospitals to use text messaging with HIV patients, both in the developing and developed world.