SMS reminder for HIV testing


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ZA South Africa


About the project Edit

Imbizo is an HIV support and educational programme run by male counsellors for men between ages of 16 to 55 years. It provides post-HIV testing counselling and runs educational workshops on condom usage and HIV risk reduction, the benefits of knowing one’s HIV status and good fatherhood. Recent research findings on the Imbizo Men’s Health Programme indicate that its male participants responded positively to the use of SMS communications. SMS was used to remind participants to go for HIV testing and inform them of upcoming events promoting AIDS and gender awareness. Taken together, this use of mobile technology has played an important part in ensuring that men have remained involved in this public health initiative.

One of the biggest problems facing HIV-awareness campaigns is how to engage successfully with men as the group who unsuspectingly create vulnerability to HIV among women and children. The education of men on HIV and AIDS is seen as a key area to changing male attitudes and sexual behaviour to reduce the spread of the AIDS pandemic. Imbizo uses SMS messaging to reach programme participants in two ways. Men who test HIV negative, but who may be within a window period, are sent an SMS reminder to retest at a later date. SMS is also used to notify men about events.

In what ways is this project unique and creative? Edit

The use of SMS in a HIV support programme is a creative way to successfully interact with different ages of the male population in relation to HIV related issue. According to research, “The men felt that the use of SMS messages was innovative and that it was a good strategy to keep them connected with the programme.” More importantly, men appreciated the anonymity of the SMS messages which helps in minimising any negative social stigma that may be attached to participating in an AIDS program.

What is the social value of this project? Edit

The use of SMS messaging along with other methods such as distributing branded clothing and educational materials went far in keeping men interested and involved in the Imbizo programme. The Imbizo program shows that the use of appropriate mobile technology has a positive impact on maintaining men’s participation in a health programme focusing on HIV testing and education.

What is the potential of this project to expand and develop? Edit

To date, the programme has reached over 10,000 men in the Soweto area in South Africa since its inception in 2005. The use of SMS in such health programme could be applicable in other countries facing health issues such as HIV.

What was the triggering factor of this project? Edit

What is the business model of this project? Edit

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