Dr. Brandon Guthrie and Dr. Keshet Ronen from the University of Washington School of Public Health were awarded a three-year, nearly $680,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a mobile health tool to support youth transitioning from pediatric to adult HIV care in Kenya.
Dr. Guthrie is an assistant professor of global health and epidemiology and Dr. Ronen is a global health research scientist. The clinical trial planning grant will fund a project called mHealth Strategies for the Pediatric to Adult HIV Care Transition, dubbed mPACT.
“Among youth living with HIV in Kenya, there is a trend of unacceptably high morbidity and mortality despite dramatic improvements in HIV care and survival in all other age strata,” Dr. Guthrie said. “A leading driver of this trend is poor transition from pediatric to adult HIV care programs.”
The mPACT intervention will address poor transition to adult care through facilitated virtual WhatsApp peer groups and one-to-one mobile communication between youth and health care providers. “This development will set the stage for a future cluster randomized trial,” Dr. Guthrie said.
The research team plans to develop messaging content and to pilot mPACT in 2021 to determine its effects on youth’s transition preparedness, antiretroviral therapy knowledge, and psychosocial factors such as stigma, depression, and social and caregiver support. Results from this project will help the team prepare for a larger trial to assess mPACT’s influence on successful transition and clinical outcomes.
The research team includes the UW’s Dr. Jennifer Unger, assistant professor of global health and of obstetrics and gynecology and Dr. Kristin Beima-Sofie, global health research scientist. The team is also partnering with Dr. Megan Moreno from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and with long-time collaborators from Kenyatta National Hospital in Kenya.