- Half of the people living with HIV (PLHIV) and individuals at-risk (IARs) surveyed in the region increased their usage of telehealth services over the past year; this is driven by the availability of new telehealth services during pandemic
- Top factor impacting usage of telehealth services for PLHIV is data privacy (43%), while lack of personal contact is the primary concern for IARs (47%)
- Around 1 in 3 respondents chose telehealth services provided by healthcare providers (HCPs) as the most trustworthy source for HIV prevention and care information
SINGAPORE, Nov. 28, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt the access and delivery of essential care worldwide, Gilead Sciences today announced findings from a survey conducted to examine changes in the motivations and use of telehealth services for people living with HIV (PLHIV) and individuals at-risk (IARs) in the Asia Pacific.
The regional survey results were based on responses from 1,531 respondents, comprising 787 PLHIV and 744 IARs, across nine countries/territories in the Asia Pacific (Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam) received during June to September 2022. The survey explored the perspective of PLHIV and IARs to better understand how HIV telehealth services can be improved. This builds on the first Gilead HIV Pulse Survey conducted in 2020 whereby 56% of PLHIV and 64% of IAR reported no access to telehealth services with their doctors. Since then, an analysis into the 2022 responses found that:
- Regionally, more than half of PLHIV (56%) and IARs (54%) surveyed increased their use of telehealth services over the past year, although there was high variation in the scale of increase between countries/territories. The biggest increase was seen in the Philippines, for both PLHIV (71%) and IARs (83%), followed by Vietnam and Malaysia.
- This uptick in telehealth usage was attributed to the availability of new services launched during the COVID-19 crisis. Respondents stated that convenience, flexibility, and improved access to additional HIV information were top three reasons why they started to use telehealth.
- However, the survey found almost half of PLHIV and around one-third of IARs were concerned about data privacy issues (43%; 35%), while nearly half of IARs (47%) felt uncomfortable about the lack of in-person contact when using telehealth services.
- 1 in 3 respondents ranked services managed by healthcare providers (HCPs) and local HIV community groups as the most trustworthy sources for online HIV prevention and care services. At a time of widespread misinformation, it is important for trusted providers to enhance their provision of telehealth services.
"UNAIDS' call to action for World AIDS Day 2022 is EQUALIZE, which is why the results of this survey is timely to demonstrate where and how the use of telehealth has grown across the Asia Pacific. If telehealth use is going to remain high beyond the COVID-19 crisis, we need to ensure equity of access," said Caroline Choi, Senior Director and Medical Affairs Asia 5 Lead, Gilead Sciences. "Not only do HCPs and Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) need to implement innovative forms of care, such as providing e-prescriptions, but healthcare systems must also adapt to the needs of patients when modernizing HIV services."
"The pandemic has ushered in confidence for the public to be an active participant in managing their own health," said Sumita Banerjee, Executive Director, Action for AIDS (AfA) Singapore. "In the context of HIV, telehealth services that have been endorsed and approved by relevant authorities may provide additional support to existing services to retain PLHIV in care. The study provides insights to understand the expectations that PLHIV and key populations have from using such a service."
"With stigma still unfortunately a barrier for some PLHIV and IARs seeking high-quality medical help and advice, it is important to note that at present, telehealth is not a silver bullet. It is clear from this survey that two-way communications with HCPs or CBOs are especially important for those on antiretroviral therapy (ART) which could help improve their adherence to medicine," said Dr. Julian Ng, Deputy CEO of DTAP Clinic Pte Ltd. "This is an opportunity for telehealth providers to further tailor their online services in order to give patients what they want and what they need."
About the HIV Asia Study 2.0: Enhancing HIV services to build back from COVID-19
The quantitative online survey was conducted from June to September 2022 and compiled by Cerner Enviza (formerly Kantar Health) with funding from Gilead Sciences. Conducted across 9 target markets (Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam), it aims to define optimal engagement configurations using telehealth services to improve access to HIV testing and preventive medications. 1,531 respondents, comprising of 787 PLHIV and 744 IAR, participated in the survey. Two CBOs from each market were also interviewed to gain insights on the engagement configurations for PLHIV and IARs during COVID-19.
About Gilead Sciences
Gilead Sciences is a biopharmaceutical company that has pursued and achieved breakthroughs in medicine for more than three decades, with the goal of creating a healthier world for all people. The company is committed to advancing innovative medicines to prevent and treat life-threatening diseases, including HIV, viral hepatitis and cancer.
For 35 years, Gilead has been a leading innovator in the field of HIV, driving advances in treatment, prevention and cure research. Gilead is committed to continued scientific innovation to provide solutions for the evolving needs of people affected by HIV around the world. Through partnerships and collaborations, the company also aims to improve education, expand access and address barriers to care, with the goal of ending the HIV epidemic for everyone, everywhere. Gilead was recognized as the number one philanthropic funder of HIV-related programs in a report released by Funders Concerned About AIDS.
In Asia, Gilead has launched the Asia Pacific Rainbow Grant since 2018, providing more than USD 4.5 million to 112 organizations across Asia Pacific. Gilead operates in more than 35 countries worldwide, with headquarters in Foster City, California.
For more information on Gilead Sciences, please visit the company's website at www.gilead.com/, follow Gilead on Twitter (@GileadSciences) or call Gilead Public Affairs at 1-800-GILEAD-5 or 1-650-574-30.
 Hung CC, et al. (2022). Impact of COVID-19 on the HIV care continuum in Asia: Insights from people living with HIV, key populations, and HIV healthcare providers. PLoS One. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0270831. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35857755/.
 Gavi. (2022). Misinformation is a common thread between the COVID-19 and HIV/AIDS pandemics - with deadly consequences. https://www.gavi.org/vaccineswork/misinformation-common-thread-between-covid-19-and-hivaids-pandemics-deadly