Global WACh

October 19, 2020

Researchers receive new award for pregnancy and breastfeeding PrEP adherence mHealth intervention

Congratulations to Dr. John Kinuthia (Affiliated Associate Professor, UW Global Health; Obstetrician Gynecologist, Kenyatta National Hospital) and Dr. Jillian Pintye (Assistant Professor, UW School of Nursing) for receiving a National Institute of Health R01 award!  They are Multiple Principal Investigators of a new five-year randomized trial titled, “mWACh-PrEP: A SMS-based Support Intervention to Enhance PrEP Adherence during Pregnancy and Breastfeeding,” to evaluate the effects of a tailored two-way SMS communication tool on PrEP adherence among Kenyan women during the pregnancy and postpartum periods, when the risk of acquiring HIV is high.

In addition, the trial will gather implementation outcomes and costing data to help healthcare providers understand the resources needed to integrate this practice into routine antenatal care service delivery.  This study, founded on a successful decades-long partnership with UW and Kenyan research collaborators with interdisciplinary expertise in maternal-child health and HIV, is the first intervention study aiming to improve PrEP adherence specifically among pregnant and postpartum women.

PrEP, the oral pill to prevent HIV, is very effective when taken daily and is safe for mothers and infants.  Although many pregnant Kenyan mothers accept PrEP when it is offered during antenatal care visits, they often face significant barriers with PrEP use during the transitional postpartum period. The SMS platform, known as Mobile WACh (mWACh), is the foundation for multiple Global WACh-related family planning studies and allows for both automated sending of tailored health messages and two-way SMS communication with a remote nurse in real-time.

Drs. Kinuthia and Pintye, with their study team, will use the platform to determine if PrEP-tailored text messages that educate women about PrEP and promote the use of this powerful HIV prevention method, with increased access to a provider (in the palm of their hands) has the potential to improve PrEP adherence among this population. Understanding why PrEP is necessary and receiving real-time support may increase women’s adherence to PrEP, resulting in reduced maternal HIV incidence and consequently lower vertical HIV transmission and thus improved health outcomes for both mother and child.

Drs. Kinuthia and Pintye are leading an outstanding study team that includes collaborators from the Departments of Global Health and Medicine—Allergy and Infectious Disease Division, Kenyatta National Hospital, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, and the University of California, San Francisco.