Medication Support for HIV

The LIVE Network: Medication Support for HIV Positive People

For HIV-positive individuals, it is extremely crucial that antiretroviral medications are taken every day due to the risk of developing a drug resistant strain. Missing a dose means that the viral load is not suppressed as it should be, putting the individual at an increased risk of getting sick or spreading the disease. This importance of diligent adherence to antiretroviral medication was the motivation behind the creation of the LIVE Network, a music project aimed at educating and motivating HIV infected patients to take their medications regularly.

Marcia Holstad, DSN/RN-C/FNP
Marcia Holstad, DSN/RN-C/FNP

Marcia Holstad, DSN/RN-C/FNP, the principal investigator behind the LIVE Network project, associate professor in the School of Nursing. She has collaborated with Igho Ofotokun, associate professor of the School of Medicine, and Steven Logwood, Producer at Futuresoft Positive Records, to bring about the LIVE Network program.

The LIVE Network is a 70 minute simulated radio talk show program that includes original music. Holstad and Ofotokun worked together to provide content to Logwood, who in turn produced the original tracks. There are 10 modules that cover various HIV related topics ranging from general information about T-cells and the viral load to overcoming barriers and getting motivated, as well as dealing with side effects. There are modules on dealing with HIV positive status disclosure and depression, two factors that heavily influence how likely a patient is to adhere to a medication regiment. A central theme of the program is “every dose, everyday.” The music tracks come from all genres, including gospel, Motown, R&B and rap. In addition to the talk show program, there is a track available including just the music for those interested in repeated listening.

Music Notes
Music Notes

The project began when Holstad attended a presentation given by Logwood on music based messaging, his specialty. She had always been intrigued by music based messaging and decided to work with Ofotokun to get in touch with Logwood and put a grant together for what would eventually become the LIVE Network project. The project received a grant from NIH for a pilot test. As Holstad explained, “It’s really a fun project. Where else can you sit around and listen to music and make a difference in peoples lives?”

During the pilot, patients were given the program and asked to listen to it over 12 weeks. At the conclusion of the period, these patients were observed to have higher levels of medication in their blood (indicating more regular medication use) and a lower viral load compared to the control group. Similarly, during a focus group conducted before the pilot, patients were asked to listen to the program for two weeks before giving feedback. During this two week period, some participants called and asked if they could share the program with family to help them better understand what it means to be HIV positive. Some patients even reported that they used the program to disclose their HIV positive status, which indicated to Holstad that the program has the potential for a greater impact than originally anticipated.

Cliff Michaels, licensing associate in the Office of Technology Transfer concurs. “When I first met and spoke with Marcia and Steven I was struck by their enthusiasm and intrigued by the ability to use music as a way to convey important messages. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding and this program has shown its ability to aid HIV positive individuals in multiple ways.”

Holstad explained that the program is well suited for use by HIV clinics, practices, providers or nurses that could use it to supplement HIV education, especially for newly diagnosed individuals. With additional assistance from Eugene Farber, PhD, associate professor in the School of Medicine and Drenna Waldrop-Valverde, PhD, associate professor in the School of Nursing the LIVE Network program was repackaged into a smart phone mobile application (app). The Music for Health project, funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research, will be evaluating the efficacy of this app in several sites in rural Georgia over a four year period. The positive impacts of the program can already be seen and will undoubtedly only grow in number in the future.

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