Using AI to Bridge Healthcare Disparities in STIs/HIV Screening for Ethnic Minority Communities
£240,838 in funding from the NIHR National Institute for Health and Care Research was granted to fund research. The aim – to help create chatbots for public health within the NHS, with a focus on serving minority ethnic populations.
This was a partnered research endeavour by Positive East, the University of Southampton, and Brighton & Sussex Medical School, and the University of Westminster’s School of Social Sciences.
‘Pat’ the sexual health chatbot
Pat is an automated chatbot that offers personalised advice about sexually transmitted infections. Pat offers advice and promotes online screening services. The goal is to make online screening services more accessible and culturally sensitive to all. Pat needs to be culturally and socially appropriate for Black and ethnic minority communities. Users must feel comfortable disclosing personal information about their sexual behaviours for Pat to provide accurate recommendations.
Teaching Pat Cultural Awareness
The NHS AI Lab's Ethical AI Initiative
The funding for this research comes as part of the NHS AI Lab’s AI Ethics Initiative. Dedicated to supporting research that validates, evaluates, and regulates AI-driven technologies in health and care. With a strong emphasis on countering health inequalities, the £1.4 million award to projects including Pat and three others was a result of a research competition by NIHR.
Positive East & 'Pat'
Positive East and Westminster researchers are building on the success of the chatbot ‘Pat.’ Originally designed to provide confidential sexual health advice, Pat has evolved into a comprehensive resource, addressing over 100 topics. Supported by Public Health England, Positive East is continuing to customise their sexual health chatbot to suit.