In the age of social distancing, peer support has become increasingly important. To fill the void for young people of color, ages 13-34, who are HIV-positive, Positive Peers launched a new smartphone app, created by and for people with HIV, to help them connect to a supportive community and healthcare professionals.
Based in Cleveland, the private app was made possible via a 2015 grant that MetroHealth was awarded from the HIV/AIDS Bureau in the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, to better help people stay on top of their HIV-medications. As a result of this support system, the Positive Peers’ website says that its community is three times more likely to achieve viral suppression.
“We want to get these people, get them in care and retain them in care,” Mary Step, assistant professor at Kent State University and evaluator for the Positive Peers Project, told Kent Wired in an article published on April 4. “But how do we retain them in care? We retain them in care by providing social support.”
And there’s a lot of support to be found on this password-protected app. For example, once a user becomes a member through the app’s confidential registration process, they can then receive guidance on a host of issues, such as how to pay for treatment, sticking to medication reminders, getting access to other people who are HIV-positive, medical experts, and more.
“In Cleveland, we’re real urban and we have all kinds of access to public transportation and all these great health institutions,” Positive Peers mastermind Jennifer McMillen Smith, a social work specialist at MetroHealth, told Kent Wired. “But I imagine someone living in the middle of the desert in Arizona or in between two mountains in Virginia where maybe they really can’t get to where they can talk face-to-face with another person with HIV, and how cool would it be if they could just tap into the app and find other people they can talk to.”
To learn more about the app or to become a member, click here.