The Evolution of Mobile Apps and Usage in the HIV community

Content From: Yumna Bahgat, New Media Coordinator, AIDS.govPublished: September 23, 20143 min read


The blog follows the evolution of mobile apps, comScore states that 2014 has marked a milestone in digital media access because over half (52%) of time spent on digital media occurs on mobile apps. These findings present the HIV community with an opportunity to assess the mobile app landscape and its implications for using new media to further the goals of our work.

Here are highlights from the U.S Mobile App ReportExit Disclaimer, followed by a look at five HIV-related apps:

Highlights: U.S Mobile App Report
Image taken from the 2014 U.S. Mobile Apps Report-comScore

Image taken from the 2014 U.S. Mobile Apps Report-comScore

  • Over â…“ of all U.S. smartphone users download at least one app per month; the average smartphone user downloads three apps per month. App usage, however, is currently limited to a relatively small proportion of smartphone users. Only 7% of smartphone owners account for nearly half of all download activity in a given month.
  • 57% of smartphone users accessed apps every single day of the month, while only 26% of tablet users did.
  • 42% of all app time spent on smartphones occurs on a person’s single most used app.
  • Across all demographic segments, Facebook is the number one app in regards to both the audience size and share of time spentExit Disclaimer and is home to several HIV-related pages and groupsExit Disclaimer.
  • iOSExit Disclaimer users are younger than their Android counterparts: 43% of iPhone users are between the ages 18-34 compared with 39% of Android users.
  • On average, iPhone users engage with their smartphone apps for nine more hours in a given month than do Android users.
Image from the comScore 2014 U.S. Mobile Apps Report

Image from the comScore 2014 U.S. Mobile Apps Report

Apps for HIV/AIDS Awareness, Treatment, Living with HIV

In the last few years, new media has dramatically changed the scope of information access for the spectrum of HIV-related topics. Health interventions via mobile devices may facilitate HIV prevention, care, and treatment services across the treatment cascade. Here are a few ways that apps are being used in the HIV community to link people to care, support treatment adherence, and increase community engagement:

  • Testing and Linking to Care: There is evidence that mHealth apps support linkage to care, retention in care, and adherence to anti-retroviral treatment. For instance, apps such as the HIV Testing Sites & Care Services Locator use location-based searches to help users find testing services, health centers, and service providers.
  • Treatment Adherence: The use of mHealth for improved treatment adherence among those living with HIV has the strongest evidence base, which texts medication reminders to people living with HIV, can play an important role in treatment adherence.
  • Community Resources and Engagement: There are several mobile apps on the market that are aimed at reducing stigma and engaging communities to raise HIV/AIDS awareness. Both the Facing AIDS can help to start conversations around HIV and foster a supportive social space for those living with HIV. The AIDSinfo Glossary of HIV/AIDS-Related Terms is an app that provides mobile users with English and Spanish definitions of more than 700 HIV/AIDS related terms.
  • Event-Specific Outreach: Apps are a great way to engage audiences “on the go” at HIV/AIDS conferences and awareness events. For example, the National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) has launched USCA2014, a conference app for NMAC’s annual event, the United States Conference on AIDS (USCA)Exit Disclaimer. The app allows attendees to manage and plan which sessions to attend, as well as to network with other attendees and navigate the exhibit hall. Kyle Murphy, NMAC’s Director of Outreach and Public Affairs told us,
“This year’s app is the most exciting and powerful tool we’ve ever provided our constituents to ensure that they get the very most out of their time with us. We are so proud and hope that users have as much fun using it as we had developing it.”

What kinds of HIV-related apps would you like to see developed? How do you use apps for HIV/AIDS awareness? We want to hear from you in the comments!