Whether it is getting your recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables, or eight hours of sleep per night, or taking your HIV medication, the majority of Americans track their health habits. Personal data collection of health information, or self-tracking, enables consumers to be more conscious of their health behaviors, to track signs and symptoms, and to ultimately take better control of their health.
In January 2013, the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project released data on Americans who track their health. According to the report: approximately “seven in ten (69%) U.S. adults track a health indicator for themselves or a loved one and many say this activity has changed their overall approach to health.” While the methods by which people track their health can vary (e.g., paper and pencil, electronic, etc.), Pew notes that 21% of people say they use some form of technology to track their health including wearable devices to track their physical activity Up, Nike+, FitBit, and Basis) and mobile apps such as LoseIt and RunKeeper. Visit Pew for the full report .
Of particular note to the HIV community, the Pew report also shared that individuals with chronic conditions are more likely to track a health indicator or symptom (40% of adults with 1 condition, and 62% of adults with 2 or more conditions versus 19% without any conditions). Many people living with HIV have symptoms and medications that can be helpful to track and then, as appropriate, share with providers and/or loved ones. In addition to wellness tracking (e.g., weight, nutrition, exercise, and heart rate), there are also tools that people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) can track health.
Two examples of free health tracking tools for people living with HIV include:
- The Body , an online resource for the HIV/AIDS community, has an online tracker tool, myHealthTracker that allows PLWHA to track lab results, medication and supplement tracking, a journal, and create reports on their adherence and health outcomes.
- Poz Magazine’s iStayHealth was developed by Peter Schmidt, after being diagnosed with HIV in 2009. Peter told us “ I developed the iStayHealthy application to help people living with HIV – including myself – to keep track of their results (CD4/Viral Load etc) and keep up their treatment. iStayHealthy is a free mobile app for Android and iOS devices. For many of us a mobile tool to keep track of our health is an invaluable enhancement. Personally, the app helped me to adhere to my treatment. I have not missed a single dose to date.”
Are you tracking your health? If so, what are your favorite methods or tools? Have you noticed that it has changed your behavior? Please share with us and our blog readers in the comments section.