As part of its objective to help those with HIV stay as strong and healthy as possible, HIV Plus has released the HIV Plus Treatment Guide, a new, free app for mobile devices.
The editor in chief of HIV Plus magazine, Diane Anderson-Minshall, said in a press release, “We’re thrilled to launch the Beta version of the HIV Plus Treatment Guide Mobile App, an extension of our annual treatment guide—the most comprehensive HIV treatment guide available, with breakdowns of every single medication approved by the FDA to treat HIV, AIDS, or HIV/AIDS-related conditions, as well as current drug trials, upcoming medication approvals, and the lowdown on complementary medicines.
“The mobile version offers things that our print and digital treatment guides couldn’t: a pharmacy finder and map at your fingertips, health tracking, and medication and appointment reminders. It’s got all the bells and whistles people in the U.S. and other developed nations expect in a mobile app, but it can also be accessed from anywhere the world, including resource-limited settings, where over 90% of the world’s HIV-infected population resides.”
The app offers a simple, user-friendly interface for everything HIV-related a patient could need, medically. The home screen is divided into six parts; on the right is information that the app finds for you: Pharmacy Finder, Medication Guide, and Daily Dose. On the left is app services that require the user to input their information: Pill Reminder, Results Tracker, and Appointment Reminder.
The Pharmacy Finder is apparently sponsored by Walgreens, because that’s the only pharmacy that appears in the results; the press release states that it “will help you find a Walgreens HIV-specialist pharmacy near you wherever you are in the U.S.” It offers both a map and a text-only list of nearby locations; the list gives an address and tells you whether or not each location is currently open, but no hours are listed, and tapping the listing doesn’t give any further information.
The Medication Guide could be the well-informed patient’s best friend, as it lists treatments first by type, such as protease inhibitors, and then by name. Each entry lists the drug’s maker; what it does; traditional dosage; drug interactions, precautions, and recommendations; and side effects. It even lists some complementary and alternative treatments, such as multivitamins (which it recommends) and colloidal silver (which it denounces as not worth it, on account of the FDA considering it unsafe). However, note that usefulness will depend on how up-to-date the app’s information is kept.
The Daily Dose is actually a list of current health articles; tapping a headline takes you to the article in your device’s browser.
The Pill Reminder and Appointment Reminders are just what they sound like; users input a list of their medications and set reminders to take them, and when/where their medical appointments are. Unfortunately, there are no options for choosing to be reminded about upcoming appointments, and the medication reminders only work if users are already looking at the screen—there is no audio alert, only a pop-up. The app also tries to be discrete, stating only “Time to take medicine,” but it’s rendered moot by the name of the app—HIVPlus Treatment—being plainly visible. Even Weight Watchers manages to avoid that by simply shortening the name of its app to “WW”; thus, users might be better off using a calendar app for vital reminders.
The Results Tracker could be very useful, however; with entries for viral load, CD4 count, CD4 percentage, and date, users can actually generate a chart showing their numbers over time, potentially helping them identify what medications are working for them and when dosages might need to be changed.
The app’s information page assures it is “simple, secure and powered with essential HIV treatment information”; even with its shortcomings (hopefully to be corrected in a future update), its features make this free resource worth checking out.