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Public Health


Frazier B. Beatty



The use of smart phones among young people in Southwestern Nigeria has grown since the early 1990’s while traditional healthcare access had continued to deteriorate. HIV care centers have been concentrated in large cities, but earlier studies had shown higher prevalence of HIV in rural areas that constituted a larger portion of the population. However, existing studies had not adequately explored the use of mobile phones to supplement traditional healthcare access. The purpose of this study was to assess the feasibility of telehealth for healthcare access among individuals aged 17-34 with positive HIV status and those at high risk for the disease in Southwestern Nigeria. Using the health belief model (HBM) as theoretical foundation, a sample (n = 2,228) was selected from data collected from six Nigerian southwestern states. Out of 2,228, 910 (40.8%) were HIV positive while 1,318 (59.2%) were HIV-negative but at high risk. 1,459 (65.5%) used mobile phones for their HIV status while 769 (34.5%) did not. A chi-square test of association showed that there was a statistically significant association between mobile phone use and HIV status, with X2(1) = 5.173, p = .023. Spearman’s correlation analysis between mobile phone use and weekly HIV counseling sessions which depicted the efforts made to understand, prevent, or manage disease was significant (p < .0005). Findings from this study might present a stronger case for the use of mobile phones to supplement reliance on face-to-face counseling and other treatment in HIV prevalence in Southwestern Nigeria. The implication for social change can be a wider healthcare coverage for people living with HIV and those at risk for it if telehealth can be applied to complement existing traditional healthcare coverage which had been grossly inadequate. Such positive social changes would reduce HIV prevalence.

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