Developing sustainable and impactful mobile phone HIV testing interventions for Spanish-speaking men who have sex with men in the United States: Lessons learned from informative interviews

Jason Mitchell, Maria Beatriz Torres, Lucy Asmar, Thu Danh, Keith J. Horvath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Although many men who have sex with men (MSM) test for HIV at least once in their lifetime, opportunities to improve regular HIV testing, particularly among Hispanic or Latino MSM, is needed. Many mHealth interventions in development, including the ones on HIV testing, have primarily focused on English-speaking white, black, and MSM of other races. To date, no studies have assessed app use, attitudes, and motivations for downloading and sustaining use of mobile apps and preferences with respect to HIV prevention among Spanish-speaking, Hispanic MSM in the United States. Objective: The primary aims of this study were to determine what features and functions of smartphone apps do Hispanic, Spanish-speaking MSM believe are associated with downloading apps to their smartphones, (2) what features and functions of smartphone apps are most likely to influence men's sustained use of apps over time, and (3) what features and functions do men prefer in a smartphone app aimed to promote regular testing for HIV. Methods: Interviews (N=15) were conducted with a racially diverse group of sexually active, HIV-negative, Spanish-speaking, Hispanic MSM in Miami, Florida. Interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed verbatim, translated back to English, and de-identified for analysis. A constant-comparison method (ie, grounded theory coding) was employed to examine themes that emerged from the interviews. Results: Personal interest was the primary reason associated with whether men downloaded an app. Keeping personal information secure, cost, influence by peers and posted reviews, ease of use, and functionality affected whether they downloaded and used the app over time. Men also reported that entertainment value and frequency of updates influenced whether they kept and continued to use an app over time. There were 4 reasons why participants chose to delete an app-dislike, lack of use, cost, and lack of memory or space. Participants also shared their preferences for an app to encourage regular HIV testing by providing feedback on test reminders, tailored testing interval recommendations, HIV test locator, and monitoring of personal sexual behaviors. Conclusions: The features and functions of mobile apps that Spanish-speaking MSM in this study believed were associated with downloading and/or sustained engagement of an app generally reflected the priorities mentioned in an earlier study with English-speaking MSM. Unlike the earlier study, Spanish-speaking MSM prioritized personal interest in a mobile app and de-emphasized the efficiency of an app to make their lives easier in their decision to download an app to their mobile device. Tailoring mobile apps to the language and needs of Spanish-speaking MSM is critical to help increase their willingness to download a mobile app. Despite the growing number of HIV-prevention apps in development, few are tailored to Spanish-speaking MSM, representing an important gap that should be addressed in future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere45
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • HIV prevention
  • HIV testing
  • Men who have sex with men
  • Smartphone
  • Spanish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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