Aviro’s digital patient product proves to increase the uptake of HIV services and linkage to care

Our first peer reviewed paper, Uptake of The Ithaka Mobile Application in Johannesburg, South Africa, for human immunodeficiency virus self-testing result reporting, was published in the Southern African Journal of HIV Medicine on the 22nd of February 2021.

The paper assesses the rollout of the Ithaka product in partnership with Ezintsha and WitsRHI, under the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Witwatersrand. This was a cross-sectional study, evaluating the data-free mobi-site version of Ithaka, Aviro’s NDOH-endorsed digital support tool that guides and supports users through health journeys using web, WhatsApp and offline apps.  . This study was conducted from November 2018 to June 2019, where 751 consenting adults  from the city of Johannesburg were invited to participate by HIV self-testing at home while using Ithaka.

“Mobile health (mHealth) applications (apps) have shown high usability and feasibility scores, so Ithaka was developed for South Africans to self-report HIVST results outside clinical settings” - excerpt from publication background.

While most apps lose up to 80% of users in the first week, 39.3% of Ithaka users received counseling, and 22.4% went on to self-report their test results. The self-reporting of 22.4% more than doubled the self-reporting of a previous South African tele-health intervention, which was 9.8%. Feedback from patients who have engaged with the mobile-friendly website, state that Ithaka is a useful tool and easy to navigate.  Since the time of this study Aviro has launched in South Africa and Kenya with complimentary channels (Whatsapps and offline app in booths for on-site testing), and achieved remote self-reporting of over 55%, along with a proven ability to link positives to care

Alex Fischer, data scientist at Aviro and lead author of the paper, says that ‘ While self-testing is emerging as a great way to reach key populations, there is currently no easy way for self-testers to report their HIVST results, or be linked to care following a positive test. This study has shown that as a proof-of-concept, HIVST users are willing and able to self- report their results via the Ithaka app, and this sharing of information on a national scale could greatly improve HIVST monitoring and evaluation.

Ithaka was developed through an iterative human centred design approach. This participatory process engages with various stakeholders throughout the cascade of care in order to develop a product that is efficient, empathetic and frictionless. Now with over 20 000 users having engaged with Ithaka, Ithaka is continuing to reach communities and patients while supporting them through the health system.

At Aviro, we aim to constantly innovate and find new ways to improve Ithaka so that users have a more valuable and engaging experience.  The business is proud of this publication as it is a proof point in assessing the progress of our product and shows the impact of the work we do in a broader lens.

We invite you to download and read the publication here.

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