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What is the context of this research?
Our objective is to develop and test a beta-version of a mobile media WebApp as a proof of
concept (pilot program) that will integrate into an individual’s FaceBook account to promote HIV testing in New Orleans; those that get HIV tested, will be ‘rewarded’ for their demonstration of their positive health behavior (i.e., getting tested for HIV).
By using 'circles of friends' while integrating with FaceBook (as our primary social media outlet) we will promote HIV testing and rewarding users for doing so, and anticipate that we will be able to encourage regular HIV testing.
One in five people living with HIV do not know that they have HIV; and those 20% are responsible for 60-80% of viral transmissions. It is important to identify these people because the behaviors that put an individual at risk for HIV are immediately ceased and thus this will lead to a decrease in viral transitions.
It is also important to identify those that are positive for HIV to initiate immediate treatment. HIV is considered a chronic disease now and the therapies to treat HIV bring the 'viral load' to undetectable levels. When a person living with HIV has undetectable viral loads, it is very difficult to transmit the virus.
Getting people tested (and treated) for HIV will significantly impact the epidemic by decreasing the number of viral transmissions.
What is the significance of this project?
The significance of this project can be summarized in the following example;
1) Jane Smith visits a partner site to get HIV tested. She decides to encourage to her friends to get tested, so she launches Get Tested For HIV campaign.
2) Jane decides to invite 100 of her FB friends to join her. She decides that the first 15 to sign up will be eligible for rewards.
3) She then decides her friends will have three weeks to get tested. If at least 90% of those 15 get tested at partner sites, the tested individuals will receive their rewards.
We will be using social media, rewards, and groups/circles of friends to promote HIV testing. Thus, the WebApp will encourage testing, but not disclosing, results of the test (either positive or negative).
What are the goals of the project?
Our project goals are;
1) Develop the WebApp.
2) Get the word out when the WebApp is complete and start to have people initiate their own Get Tested for HIV campaigns.
3) Once the predetermined number of friends are tested (lets say like in the previous example 14 of the 15 friends), then the WebApp will release the rewards to the group of friends.
4) Because of limited funds for this particular pilot program, we will limit the number of those that can get rewards to New Orleans so that we do not exceed our capacity (80 maximum rewards to be distributed).
5) If this (pilot program) WebApp proves to be successful, we will publish our data as well as apply for larger grants so that we can make this campaign a nation wide campaign.
6) We will be partnering with local HIV testing centers (Tulane T-Cell Clinic, NO/AIDS Task Force, Priority Health) which have internal policies for linkage and retention to care already in place for those that test positive for HIV.