Health x Wellness

People living with HIV increasing use of telehealth services

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Half of the people living with HIV (PLHIV) and individuals at-risk (IARs) surveyed increased their usage of telehealth services over the past year.

Gilead Sciences shared findings from a regional survey conducted to examine changes in the motivations and use of telehealth services for people living with HIV (PLHIV) and individuals at-risk (IARs) in the Asia Pacific.

The survey was based on responses from 1,531 respondents, comprising 787 PLHIV and 744 IARs, across nine countries/territories in the Asia Pacific (Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam) received during June to September 2022.

With stigma still unfortunately a barrier for some PLHIV and IARs seeking high-quality medical help and advice, it is important to note that at present, telehealth is not a silver bullet. It is clear from this survey that two-way communications with HCPs or CBOs are especially important for those on antiretroviral therapy (ART) which could help improve their adherence to medicine. This is an opportunity for telehealth providers to further tailor their online services in order to give patients what they want and what they need.

Dr. Julian Ng, Deputy CEO of DTAP Clinic Pte Ltd
telehealth services

Key findings from the survey

More than half of PLHIV (56 percent) and IARs (54 percent) surveyed increased their use of telehealth services over the past year. The biggest increase was seen in the Philippines, for both PLHIV (71 percent) and IARs (83 percent).

Respondents stated that convenience, flexibility, and improved access to additional HIV information were top three reasons why they started to use telehealth. The availability of new services launched during the COVID-19 crisis led to the increase in telehealth usage.

The survey also found almost half of PLHIV and around one-third of IARs were concerned about data privacy issues (43 percent; 35 percent). Nearly half of IARs (47 percent) felt uncomfortable about the lack of in-person contact when using telehealth services.

1 in 3 respondents ranked services managed by healthcare providers (HCPs) and local HIV community groups as the most trustworthy sources for online HIV prevention and care services.

telehealth services

If telehealth use is going to remain high beyond the COVID-19 crisis, we need to ensure equity of access. Not only do HCPs and Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) need to implement innovative forms of care, such as providing e-prescriptions, but healthcare systems must also adapt to the needs of patients when modernizing HIV services.

Caroline Choi, Senior Director and Medical Affairs Asia 5 Lead, Gilead Sciences