What is text messaging?
Text messaging, or texting, is a way to send information to and from cellular and smart phone devices. Messages can be sent as text (Short Message Service or SMS), or pictures, video, and audio (Multimedia Messaging Service or MMS). A text message can be sent to individual mobile phones or multiple phones. Texting is one of the ways people are using mobile technology in public health.
Text messaging in response to HIV
- Locate local HIV testing centers.
- Respond to questions about HIV.
- Remind patients of medical appointments.
- Help patients adhere to their medication schedules.
- Encourage people to get tested for HIV through peer networks.
- Fundraise for AIDS service organizations and community-based organizations.
What are texting appointment and medication reminders?
Text messaging is a way of sending information to and from cell phones and certain personal digital assistants (PDAs). You can use text messaging to send and/or receive reminders about upcoming healthcare appointments or about taking medications.
There are a number of options for sending texting reminders. These include secure Web accounts accessed from your computer or software that allows you to schedule and track appointment and medication reminders. There are also websites that allow you to set up medication, appointment, and refill reminders.
Ways to use texting reminders in response to HIV
- Help reduce no-show rates for HIV-related appointments.
- Increase HIV medication adherence.
Examples from the Field
- KNOWIT connects people to local HIV testing sites across the U.S.: www.kff.org/hivaids/phip113007nr.cfm
- Get Yourself Tested (GYT) helps people locate nearby STI testing centers: www.itsyoursexlife.com/gyt
- SexInfo provides sexual health information for youth in San Francisco: www.sexinfosf.org
- REALtalk provides information to youth in Washington DC about where to access free HIV/STI testing and free condoms: www.realtalkdc.org
- CareSpeak and Everyday Health developed a mobile application to remind patients to take their HIV medications: http://www.carespeak.com/corp/product#medim
- Whitman-Walker Clinic uses text reminders to communicate with their clients.
- The University of Virginia is carrying out a study exploring the use of text messaging for HIV appointment reminders and treatment compliance.
- Children's Memorial Hospital is planning to use two-way messaging for a pilot HIV medication-adherence study with adolescents who have previously failed treatment, or are newly diagnosed.
Where can I learn more?
- Texting4Health: www.texting4health.org
- United Nations Foundation’s “Wireless Technology for Social Change”: www.unfoundation.org/vodafone/communications_publication_series.asp
- WikiHow’s “How to Send a Text Message”: www.wikihow.com/Text
- CDC’s Text Messaging Data Brief
- AIDS.gov Blog's posts about Text Messaging
Text Messaging (PDF - 512 KB)
A one page reference regarding text messaging and how it is being used in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Last revised: 06/05/2012