I have shamelessly copied but with attribution, bits out of a recent press release by John Hopkins University (JHU) on http://www.eurekalert.org.
What day of the week do you search for HIV prevention and testing information and what day of the week are you more likely to engage in risky behaviour?
According to a study by JHU researchers, the peak time for seeking information on topics related to HIV, such as prevention and testing, is at the beginning of the week, while risky sexual behaviors tend to increase on the weekends.
The researchers also found that among people living with HIV, adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART) is slightly lower on weekends, and evidence indicates an association between breaks in daily routine and sporadic interruptions to ART adherence. The researchers suggest that recognising these weekly patterns could be a first step toward finding ways to counter unsafe practices.
For their analysis, the authors reviewed existing research looking for evidence of weekly patterns in HIV-related behaviors and strategically timed interventions relevant to those behaviors. Using the online search engines PubMed and Ebsco, they searched for the keywords HIV and Aids with any combination of the terms weekly, weekend, weekday or any of the days of the week. After eliminating irrelevant search results, a total of 61 relevant articles were analysed.
The researchers found that evidence points to an uptick in web searches for topics related to HIV/Aids at the beginning of the work week, and similar trends have been documented for calls to informational hotlines and queries on “ask the expert” websites. An analysis of Google search data revealed that searches for general health topics also peak early in the week, and the study’s authors attributed their findings to a possible perception that Monday is a fresh start, which may motivate people to get back on track with health regimens.
The researchers also found that several promising new interventions have successfully leveraged weekly behavioral patterns to improve outcomes. For example, simple weekly text message reminders have been shown to improve ART adherence. And evidence suggests that weekend clinic hours can eliminate a major barrier to accessing care — lack of available time during clinic hours — and increase testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
The key to improving prevention and treatment could lie in better integration of evidence-based behavioral interventions with the best available biomedical treatments.