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UIC Professor Creates App to Help HIV-positive Patients

Can an interactive human avatar teach patients to take their medication as prescribed and keep their healthcare appointments?

A researcher at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health and his collaborator will begin testing an app this fall that they think will do just that. Their personal-technology approach to medication adherence and retention, aimed first at young African-American HIV-positive males who have sex with men, could be expanded to help other patient populations stick to their treatment plans, if it is proven effective.

Dr. Mark Dworkin, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at UIC, and Sangyoon James Lee, assistant professor of computer science at Connecticut College, received funding in the amount of $450,000 from the National Institute of Nursing Research of the National Institutes of Health, will present their app Oct. 28 at the IDWeek conference in New Orleans.

“We’re breaking new ground by embedding a relational, talking avatar into a smartphone app for the purpose of informing and motivating healthy behavior,” Dr. Dworkin said.

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