In this paper, we report the use of information and communication technology (ICT) among people living with HIV (PLHIV) in Guangxi, China. A total 2987 participants were recruited from 12 sites with the highest number of cumulative HIV incidence, including 2 cities and 10 counties. A questionnaire survey was conducted to collect data on the participants’ social demographic characteristics, clinical outcomes, infections and coinfections, pattern of ICT use, and use and intention of using ICT in HIV and AIDS management. The data was analyzed using SPSS, version 24. The results showed 78.7% (n = 2347) never used a computer, 86.9% (n = 2587) had a cellphone, 32.7% (n = 207) owned an email account, and 85.4% (n = 544) owned a social media account. Less than half of the participants reported ever using ICTs for HIV management. Only 26.2% (n = 266) were willing to join a web-based HIV prevention program. Findings of this study suggest that there was an imbalance in the participants’ ICT device ownership and choices of media platform. Social media appeared to be a potential platform for health intervention among this group. There was a low penetration of computer use among rural participants and a large disparity between the urban and rural participants, which indicated a need to expand the current infrastructure related to ICTs and increase people’s health literacy. Future research also needs to pay attention to security and trustworthiness of the intervention program to better promote ICTs as an efficient and reliable platform for HIV prevention and care.
The application of Information and Communication technology (ICT) in HIV prevention and treatment has been increasingly examined. ICTs provide people living with HIV (PLHIV) with the possibility of remote access as well as low cost of delivery in reducing the virus transmission and in improving the quality of care (Catalani, Philbrick, Fraser, Mechael, & Israelski, 2013; Muessig, Pike, LeGrand, & HightowWeidman, 2013; Zhang & Li, 2017). A substantial body of literature focusing on assessments of efficacy and feasibility of ICT use also indicates that the ICT facilitated intervention has become a promising strategy for a population, which is hard to reach and at high risk of HIV infection (Holloway et al., 2014; Lelutiu-Weinberger et al., 2015; Muessig et al., 2015; Mustanski, Garofalo, Monahan, Gratzer, & Andrews, 2013; Noar, Black, & Pierce, 2009; Roth et al., 2014; Velthoven, Brusamento, Majeed, & Car, 2013; Ybarra & Bull, 2007). Computer-based intervention was widely applied in every key component of HIV prevention and treatment, including diagnosis, medical adherence, risk behavior reduction and sigma elimination (Aronson et al., 2016; Bonar et al., 2014; Festinger, Dugosh, Kurth, & Metzger, 2016; Kurth et al., 2016; Roberto et al., 2007). The use of a computer also plays an indispensable role in improving the access to information and in increasing the patients’ level of health literacy in terms of HIV (Jacobs, Caballero, Ownby, & Kane, 2014; Ownby, Waldrop-Valverde, Jacobs, Acevedo, & Caballero, 2013).