New R01 Awarded Focusing on the Efficacy of a Mobile App (HealthMindr) to Promote PrEP to MSM

Drs. Sullivan and Castel
August 16, 2017

Emory CFAR investigator, Patrick Sullivan, DVM,PhD, along with DC CFAR investigator, Amanda Castel, MD, MPH, has recently been awarded an R01 from the National Institutes of Health entitled, "Theoretically Based Mobile App to Increase PrEP Uptake Among MSM". This study will test the efficacy of a mobile app (HealthMindr) to promote PrEP uptake in 3 US cities with substantial and unique HIV epidemics among MSM: Atlanta, Jackson, MS and Washington, DC.  Dr. Sullivan will be the overall principal investigator (PI) on this project, and Dr. Castel will be the site PI for Washington, DC.  

The prevention science is increasingly clear: biomedical interventions hold great promise to reduce susceptibility for those who are HIV-negative and take pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). However, these strategies are serostatus dependent, and MSM have high levels of lack of awareness of HIV serostatus and low levels of PrEP uptake. PrEP will not have sufficient impact unless it is combined with increased HIV testing frequency, paired with coordinated behavior change interventions, integrated within communities, and brought to scale. 

This study will test the efficacy of HealthMindr to promote PrEP uptake in Atlanta, Jackson, MS and Washington DC. The prevention app has already been developed and tested with 121 MSM; 10% of PrEP eligible MSM who used the app initiated PrEP during a 4-month follow-up period. Further, the app was found to be very acceptable to MSM. Minor enhancements to the PrEP component will be made, including addition of additional PrEP information. 

The app will include components for self-administered risk assessments, developing and supporting a plan for frequent HIV testing, and monthly self-assessment for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) eligibility. The app will link those eligible for PrEP to services with a locator for PrEP providers, including private providers and details about services available. The final app will be tested in an RCT versus an app without PrEP information and support and versus standard of care (existing PrEP information and resources) in the three cities. The primary outcome will be rate of PrEP initiation, confirmed by tenofovir detection in a dried blood spot (DBS) specimen.