New study seeks to find out if crypto rewards can be effective for HIV/AIDS patients in Africa

  • Immunify.Life and Kenyan University MMUST are conducting a study to determine if blockchain technology can benefit Kenya’s HIV/AIDS crisis.
  • The 5-year study will reward HIV/AIDS patients and healthcare providers with tokens for positive behaviour.

Kenyan university, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) and blockchain-powered healthcare ecosystem Immunify.Life are partnering to test a new innovative blockchain and cryptocurrency use case. As announced on Nov. 1, the two will conduct a groundbreaking five-year study to determine the effect of tokenized incentives on the health outcomes of persons living with HIV/AIDS in the country.

Already, the pair have obtained study approvals from an ethics committee and the national commission. The research will start by the end-year in Kenya’s Kakamega County, before extending to other regions of the country.

Immunify.Life will provide MMUST with blockchain technology for collecting and analyzing HIV/AIDS patient data. The platform’s native ERC-20 token, IMM, will be provided by the project’s sponsors (NGOs and government institutions) and will be used as the treatment incentive. 

These sponsors have identified health-positive behaviors related to HIV/AIDS patients. They include “completing a prescribed dose of antibiotics for Tuberculosis” and “returning to the clinic for their check-up and treatment.” MMUST and Immunify.Life will evaluate whether patients who receive token incentives for these health-positive behaviors have better treatment outcomes. 

Of the 600 patient sample size, half will receive token incentives while the other half will not (control experiment). Patients will then be monitored over a six-month period during which they will receive active monthly treatment and monitoring.

Even more, patients will financially benefit from the sale of anonymized medical data to research institutions and the like.

Blockchain helping solve HIV/AIDS healthcare

Patients enrolled in the blockchain project, will be issued with health IDs in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). These will contain crucial medical data such as vaccination records. This data will then be transferred to a digital registry to give medical professionals remote medical supervision and real-time data access. Blockchain use, as Immunity. Life CEO Guy Newing notes, enables real-time capturing of critical data. It also timestamps and secures all records, preventing hacking or alteration.

Additionally, the blockchain system will reward healthcare workers for positive behaviors. These include “correctly filling out consultation records, ordering a certain number of tests for Tuberculosis, or completing medical education.”

Another objective of the study will be determining the efficacy of paperless healthcare tracking systems in low socio-economic regions. Initially, the platform will make use of Polygon, Ethereum’s layer-two solution, before bridging to Cardano blockchain. 

Other than HIV/AIDS in Kenya, Immunify.Life’s blockchain tech is also being used in managing COVID-19 and opioid addiction. The platform is currently conducting private funding round before an initial DEX offering (IDO) in early 2022.

About 1.5M in Kenya is living with HIV/AIDS, according to the 2020 UNAIDS report. About 70 percent of them are under treatment, but there are still challenges in tracking, access, data collection, and program design. Many of those diagnosed, eventually drop out of treatment(lapse), with some areas recording as high as 40 percent lapsed patients. Among these, are pregnant women, who without proper care, can pass on the virus to their newborns.