Mobile App Aims to Improve HIV Awareness, Prevention Among Black Women

Andrea Grimes Parker, School of Interactive Computing associate professor, to refine and test “in-the-kNOW,” a mobile app specifically designed for Black women eligible for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

A new mobile application aims to improve HIV awareness and decrease transmission totals in one of the most highly-impacted demographics in the United States.

With help from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH), collaborators at Georgia Tech, the Emory School of Nursing, and the Morehouse School of Medicine will refine and test “in-the-kNOW,” a mobile app specifically designed for Black women eligible for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

The goal is to incorporate portable cultural- and context-relevant messaging strategies to close information and awareness gaps in higher-risk populations. To achieve this, the app offers personalized messaging to promote HIV preventative behaviors among its users.

Statistics show that Black women have the second-highest rate of all new HIV infections in the United States, accounting for 69 percent of all HIV diagnoses among women in the South. In a preliminary study, participants endorsed the mobile app intervention and expressed a desire for a fully developed and integrated version.

[RELATED: Virtual Counselor to Help Address Vaccination Hesitancy in Black Communities]

Thanks to a $709,000 grant from the NIH, researchers will refine the app and evaluate its feasibility, acceptability, and usability among real-world users. The research needed to further develop the app will be conducted in Cobb, Dekalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett Counties, which all have high rates of new HIV cases.

Andrea Grimes Parker, Georgia Tech’s lead collaborator on the project, will receive a share of the grant worth $229,000. She is one of three primary collaborators. The others are Dr. Rasheeta Chandler of the Emory School of Nursing, the principal investigator, and Dr. Natalie Hernandez of the Morehouse School of Medicine.

The project, set to last three years, is titled In-the-kNOW (Novel Approaches to Optimizing Women’s Health): A Mobile Application to Optimize HIV Prevention and Sexual/Reproductive Health Communication Among Black Women in the Southern U.S.