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University of Nebraska Medical Center launches HAND in HAND ResearchKit App

App will make it easier for researchers to gather data more frequently and more accurately from participants using iPhone apps

Howard Fox, M.D., Ph.D.Photo courtesy of the University of Nebraska Medical Center The University of Nebraska Medical Center on Oct. 5 announced HAND in HAND, a study developed using ResearchKit that is designed to help further research and knowledge of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders, known as HAND or neuroAIDS. 

The app, developed in partnership with Digital Artefacts, uses the ResearchKit software framework designed by Apple to make it easy for researchers to gather data more frequently and more accurately from participants using iPhone apps. The HAND in HAND app is available today at no cost on the App Store

"Diagnosis of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders currently requires specialized testing that is not available in a majority of clinical care situations," said Howard Fox, M.D., Ph.D., senior associate dean of UNMC research and development and a professor of pharmacology and experimental neuroscience. 

"We aim to gather real-world data from participants using HAND in HAND and better characterize the multifaceted influences on the occurrence and severity of HIV-related cognitive disorders," said Dr. Fox, who is principal investigator of UNMC’s Chronic HIV Infection and Aging in NeuroAIDS Center.

The center, which is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, has been researching ways to diagnose, predict, treat and prevent brain damage induced by HIV. The app is designed to make it easier for large numbers of HIV patients to participate in research.

ResearchKit enables participants to easily complete tasks or submit surveys right from the HAND in HAND app and delivers a simple way to present participants with an interactive informed consent process. More information about the Hand in Hand studies is available here.

Joan Severson of Digital Artefacts said, "This allows us to rapidly disseminate cognitive tests and surveys designed to better understand HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders in a large cohort of individuals, not only in the U.S. but also, in the future, around the globe."

Approximately 37 million people worldwide live with HIV, including more than 1.2 million in the United States. 

Digital Artefacts is working with others at UNMC, including Matthew Rizzo, M.D., chair of the department of neurological sciences, to develop and use technology to expand studies on brain function across the lifespan, in health and disease.

The HAND in HAND app, as a mobile, non-clinic means of gathering data, "will help the HIV community take a leading role in HIV research and health care," Dr. Fox said.

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