LVG News

LVG Stories

Announcing the 2020 Innovators of the Year

2020 Innovators of the Year Improve Care Retention and Outcomes Among HIV Patients with Innovative Mobile Health Technology

UVA Licensing & Ventures Group honors interdisciplinary UVA School of Medicine research team

Charlottesville, VA (January 23, 2020) - The University of Virginia Licensing & Ventures Group (UVA LVG) announces Rebecca Dillingham, M.D./M.P.H., Harrison Distinguished Teaching Associate Professor of Medicine, and Karen Ingersoll, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences, as the 2020 Edlich-Henderson Innovators of the Year. This endowed award recognizes University faculty members or a team of faculty researchers whose work is making a major impact on society.

UVA LVG recognizes Drs. Dillingham and Ingersoll for their efforts directed toward ending the HIV epidemic through innovations in HIV care delivery. Their mobile health (mHealth) technology, PositiveLinks, is a sustainable and scalable solution to promote engagement with HIV care. It is a HIPPA-compliant mobile platform that helps people living with HIV to manage their health better, in partnership with their clinical providers. 

To date, nearly 600 people living with HIV in Virginia are enrolled in PositiveLinks. The app is commercially available through Warm Health Technology, a company founded to support the dissemination of the mobile platform across the U.S.

“HIV is a treatable disease. In many ways, it is easier to manage than other chronic diseases, like diabetes. Unfortunately, only about 50% of people living with HIV in the U.S. engage consistently with care,” said Dr. Dillingham. “Using mobile health solutions, we have seen improvements in engagement with care, even amongst our patients facing the most challenges. PositiveLinks members can engage with the platform to seek information, support, or care coordination when and where it is most convenient for them.”

In December 2019, PositiveLinks earned national best practice recognition from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and from the National Association of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD). 

“Drs. Dillingham and Ingersoll have continuously innovated their original text-messaged-based intervention for nearly a decade alongside the rise of the digital health industry,” said Michael Straightiff, executive director of the Licensing & Ventures Group. “PositiveLinks pushes the boundaries on new-age solutions for the HIV care community and stands to significantly lower transmission rates among users of the app. This interdisciplinary research team has and will continue to enrich and improve lives with PositiveLinks, and we are thrilled to honor their accomplishments with this award.”

The PositiveLinks app features self-monitoring tools for medication adherence, daily stress, and mental health check-ins, appointment reminders, and secure messaging with the healthcare team. Users gain access to an anonymous community message board where they can share experiences, seek and provide social support, and build connections, all of which improve the management of a chronic disease. 

PositiveLinks includes proven psychological tools that engage patients and provide support for specific health behaviors that promote better self-management of HIV,” said Dr. Ingersoll. The platform also includes tools for physicians and administrative staff to support improved self-management. 

UVA LVG will honor Drs. Dillingham and Ingersoll on Tuesday, February 18, from 3:30-5:00 p.m. in the Rotunda Dome Room. The 2020 recipients will deliver a keynote lecture highlighting their work with PositiveLinks at the event, which is open to the public.