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The Making of Medicine

HIV App Creators Honored as Innovators of the Year

UVA’s Licensing & Ventures Group has honored our Rebecca Dillingham, MD, and Karen Ingersoll, PhD, as the 2020 Edlich-Henderson Innovators of the Year for creating an app to help people living with HIV.

Nearly 600 people in Virginia are using the app, called PositiveLinks. It offers a potent mix of engagement, social interaction and access to care providers. Features include appointment reminders, important health information and an anonymous message board where users can share their experiences and seek and provide social support.

“HIV is a treatable disease. In many ways, it is easier to manage than other chronic diseases, like diabetes. Unfortunately, only about 50% of people living with HIV in the U.S. engage consistently with care,” Dillingham said. “Using mobile health solutions, we have seen improvements in engagement with care, even amongst our patients facing the most challenges. PositiveLinks members can engage with the platform to seek information, support or care coordination when and where it is most convenient.”

“PositiveLinks includes proven psychological tools that engage patients and provide support for specific health behaviors that promote better self-management of HIV,” Ingersoll noted. The platform also includes tools for physicians and administrative staff to support improved self-management.

The app has earned national best practice recognition from the Centers for Disease Control and from the National Association of State and Territorial AIDS Directors.

“Drs. Dillingham and Ingersoll have continuously innovated their original text-messaged-based intervention for nearly a decade alongside the rise of the digital health industry,” said Michael Straightiff, executive director of UVA’s Licensing & Ventures Group. “PositiveLinks pushes the boundaries on new-age solutions for the HIV care community and stands to significantly lower transmission rates among users of the app. This interdisciplinary research team has and will continue to enrich and improve lives with PositiveLinks, and we are thrilled to honor their accomplishments with this award.”

Last year’s Innovator of the Year award went to our Lee Ritterband, PhD and 2018’s went to our Jeff Elias, MD. This is a university-wide award, so good job, School of Medicine!

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