The program has partnered with a cell company called MTN to send one million daily text messages with information about counseling and testing centers. During testing stages in October 2008, the project increased daily call volume to an AIDS helpline by nearly 200%. Once residents receive the message and call the number provided, operators can provide information, counseling, and listings of testing centers. (One message says: "Frequently sick, tired, losing weight and scared that you might be HIV positive? Please call AIDS Helpline 0800012322." Another says: "HIV + & being mistreated by your family of friends? For confidential counseling call AIDS Helpline on 0800012322.")
Project Masiluleke was born out of the desire to address the challenges that result in avoidance of HIV testing, delayed initiation of life-saving treatment and high rates of treatment default, all of which contribute needlessly to high mortality rates from HIV/AIDS. South Africa has more HIV positive citizens than any country in the world. In some provinces more than 40% of the population is infected. Ineffectual public communications campaigns and the social stigma associated with HIV/AIDS keep many from pursuing testing or treatment. Despite widespread availability of HIV testing at all government clinics and free anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment, less than 25% have tested and know their status. Only about 10% of those with AIDS who qualify for ARVs are currently receiving these drugs.
Unlike other mobile health initiatives, which primarily provide tools to health care workers, Project Masiluleke proposes solutions that interact directly with the end-users – those impacted by HIV/AIDS. Project Masiluleke capitalizes on these opportunities and represents the largest-ever use of mobile devices for the delivery of public health information. The project is presently reaching upwards of 1 million South Africans every day, helping connect them to care – with a special emphasis on those who have been historically difficult to reach (men, youth, and those living in rural areas with limited access to healthcare information and services).
The next phase of Project Masiluleke will actively explore a breakthrough distributed diagnostics model: low cost HIV self-testing with mobile counseling support. Analogous to a pregnancy test, these distributed diagnostics would provide a free, private, and reliable way for anyone to take the critical first step of knowing his or her status, with high-quality information provided by knowledgeable counselors via mobile device.
Purpose: Extending Geographic Access
Purpose: Facilitating Patient Communications (General Education)
Purpose: Facilitating Patient Communications (Privacy)