Feasibility of remote self-collection of dried blood spots, hair, and nails among people with HIV with hazardous alcohol use

Madison K. Firkey, Lyric K. Tully, Veronica M. Bucci, McKenna E. Walsh, Stephen A. Maisto, Judith A. Hahn, Kestutis G. Bendinskas, Brooks B. Gump, Sarah E. Woolf-King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: The use of biomarkers in behavioral HIV research can help to address limitations of self-reported data. The COVID-19 pandemic forced many researchers to transition from standard in-person data collection to remote data collection. We present data on the feasibility of remote self-collection of dried blood spots (DBS), hair, and nails for the objective assessment of alcohol use, antiretroviral therapy adherence, and stress in a sample of people with HIV (PWH) who are hazardous drinkers. Methods: Standardized operating procedures for remote self-collection of DBS, hair, and nails were developed for an ongoing pilot study of a transdiagnostic alcohol intervention for PWH. Prior to each study appointment, participants were mailed a kit containing materials for self-collection, instructions, a video link demonstrating the collection process, and a prepaid envelope for returning samples. Results: A total of 133 remote study visits were completed. For DBS and nail collection at baseline, 87.5% and 83.3% of samples, respectively, were received by the research laboratory, of which 100% of samples were processed. Although hair samples were intended to be analyzed, most of the samples (77.7%) were insufficient or the scalp end of the hair was not marked. We, therefore, decided that hair collection was not feasible in the framework of this study. Conclusion: An increase in remote self-collection of biospecimens may significantly advance the field of HIV-related research, permitting the collection of specimens without resource-intensive laboratory personnel and facilities. Further research is needed on the factors that impeded participants' ability to complete remote biospecimen collection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)986-995
Number of pages10
JournalAlcohol: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2023


  • HIV
  • adherence
  • alcohol
  • biomarkers
  • stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology


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