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Mobile App Aims to Help Black Smokers Living With HIV

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As strides continue to persevere in the fight against HIV, concern about the treatment of the virus includes the wide disparities among Black and Latinx Americans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approximates 13% of Black Americans with HIV still do not know their status, and members of the Black and Latinx communities are less likely to find viral suppression.

Medical Xpress reported that one of the more significant factors related to the HIV disease is management of smoking status, especially considering those with HIV are more likely to smoke as opposed to the general population.

Lorra Garey of the University of Houston’s RESTORE Lab has decided to face this issue head on. She and her team of researchers are collaborating on the development of a mobile intervention app for HIV-positive Black American smokers.

“It is so important that we start moving more towards an individualistic approach to understand health and intervention,” Garey said. “It is more of a precision medicine perspective. We’re looking at the individual and what they bring to the table — using their current skills to build upon and provide them the most effective treatment for them we can.”

The research initiative took a $1.3 million Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) grant by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) as a supplemental award under the existing award for the HEALTH Center for Addictions and Cancer Prevention.

The RESTORE team is currently recruiting 72 HIV-positive people and is also collaborating with St. Hope Foundation and Thomas Street.

“I appreciated that NIDA thought this was worth exploring,” said Garey. “With this app, we are hopeful that people will learn new skills — to manage stress, anxiety, depression and negative moods that will assist with them quitting smoking and help them improve their quality of life and well being.”

She added, “If they quit smoking, that can translate into better HIV symptom management outcomes. It’s like a cascading positive effect.”

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