HIV Apps Assist PWAs
People living with HIV and AIDS now have another tool to help manage their health needs and medications: their smartphones.
A variety of downloadable applications for cellphones, as well as computers, are aimed at helping HIV-positive people keep track of when to take their medicines and record health data to share with their physicians during doctor visits.
Two of the earliest options were PozTracker and iStayHealthy, which was recommended by Poz magazine.
The HIV and Your Heart app uses research and guidelines from the American Heart Association and the American Academy of HIV Medicine to provide suggestions on how to live healthy with HIV.
Drug giant Merck Sharp and Dohme Corp. has created the My Health Matters and My Positive Agenda mobile and desktop apps. The digital tools help users track symptoms they incur from their HIV treatments and allow for the creation of reports that display those symptoms users can then email to their doctor.
Merck introduced the apps last year around the same time as the company teamed up with Project Runway contestant Mondo Guerra, who revealed his HIV status on the show’s Season 8, for the national I Design campaign. This year it has engaged San Francisco-based photographer Duane Cramer, who splits his time in Manhattan, to join Guerra as a paid spokesman for the campaign specifically to promote usage of the apps.
"I want to encourage people not to be victims but to really be victorious," said Cramer. "It is 2013, and when it comes to HIV, we now can use online electronic tools to better manage our health."
Cramer, 50, is a well-known black gay man who has been a longtime advocate for people living with HIV and AIDS. He was first diagnosed with HIV in October 1996, a decade after his father, Joe J. Cramer, Jr., Ph.D., an accomplished academician, died from AIDS.
Merck purposefully chose today, Thursday February 7, which is National Black HIV Awareness Day, to officially announce Cramer’s participation in the campaign. In a phone interview last week with the Bay Area Reporter, Cramer said he had already downloaded the apps and has begun using them to track his own health.
"They are easy-to-use tools," said Cramer, adding that in terms of his own health he is "doing fantastic. My viral load is undetectable."
Through his involvement in the I Design campaign Cramer is particularly focused on reaching young black gay and bisexual men who continue to be at alarming risk for contracting HIV.