OPT-In For Life: A Mobile Technology–Based Intervention to Improve HIV Care Continuum for Young Adults Living With HIV

John Zurlo, Ping Du, Alexander Haynos, Verbenia Collins, Tarek Eshak, Cynthia Whitener

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Young adults living with HIV (YALH) have lower rates of retention in care and HIV viral suppression. Multiple barriers exist to engage YALH in care. We developed and implemented a multifaceted, mobile application-based intervention, “OPT-In for Life,” by targeting YALH to encourage retention in care and eventually viral suppression. The app integrated multiple user-friendly features for YALH to manage their HIV care, including a two-way secure messaging function, HIV-related laboratory results, and appointment or medication reminders. We recruited 92 YALH who were 18 to 34 years old and were newly diagnosed with HIV, had a history of falling out of care, or had a detectable HIV viral load into this intervention. Study participants used the app to manage their HIV care and to communicate and interact with their HIV care team. During the intervention period, the retention rate among our study participants increased from 41.3% at baseline to 78.6% at 6-month follow-up, maintained at 12-month follow-up (79.8%), and slightly decreased to 73.4% at 18-month follow-up but it was still significantly higher than the baseline retention rate (p <.0001). The viral suppression rate (HIV RNA <200 copies/ml) increased from 64.1% at baseline to about 85% at 6-month and at 12-month follow-up and reached 91.4% at 18-month (p =.0002) among participants who were retained in care. Our study demonstrated using a HIPAA-compliant mobile application as an effective intervention to engage YALH in care. This mobile technology–based intervention can be incorporated into routine clinical practice to improve HIV care continuum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)727-737
Number of pages11
JournalHealth promotion practice
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)


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