Positive Outlook on Telehealth for HIV care

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Study authors investigated patients’ perceptions to utilizing telehealth as an alternative for face-to-face in-person care, hoping to overcome barriers of patient retention such as transportation-related challenges, stigma, and fear of HIV status disclosure.

There is an overall positive outlook on telehealth use for HIV care among people with HIV (PWH), with a majority of patients likely to use teleheatlh over one-on-one, in-person care, according to research presented at IDWeek, held virtually from October 21 to 25.

In PWH, retention in care plays a critical role in preventing HIV transmission and improving health outcomes. Telehealth care could address many factors identified as barriers for retention in HIV care, such as transportation-related challenges. This current study assessed PWH’s attitudes about using telemedicine for HIV care instead of face-to-face visits.

In total, 371 participants were included in the study. Participants completed a 1-time survey that was presented at an outpatient HIV center in Houston, Texas, from February to June 2018. Participant demographics included a median age of 51 years (interquartile range [IQR], 41-57), 36% were women, and 63% were African-American. Approximately 56% of patients had been living with HIV for over 10 years, 49% were on antiretroviral therapy for over 10 years, and 67% had an undetectable HIV viral load.

Results suggested that telehealth programs for PWH can improve retention in care. Among participants who completed the survey, 57% reported they were more likely to use telehealth for their HIV care compared to one-on-one in-person care, and 37% reported that they would use telehealth frequently or always as an alternative to clinic visits. The benefits reported with telehealth care included the ability to better fit schedules, decreased travel time, and privacy. Concerns reported with telehealth care included the ability to effectively communicate and examine, and the safety of personal information.

Factors that increase the likelihood of utilizing telehealth include patients who are US-born, men who have sex with men, patients with higher educational attainment, patients with long standing HIV, and patients with difficulty attending clinic visits.

Overall, the study authors conclude that there is an “overall positive attitude” toward use of telehealth in this population, although “availability and confidence using various telehealth technologies need to be addressed to increase acceptability and usage of telehealth among PWH.”


Dandachi D, Dang B, Lucari B, Teti M, Giordano T. The attitude of patients with HIV about telehealth for their HIV care. Presented at: IDWeek 2020; October 21-25, 2020. Poster 1042.