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A mobile solution to supporting HIV treatment adherence

MenConnect is an innovative approach to supporting HIV treatment initiation and adherence among men living with HIV in South Africa.

South Africa has made great strides in testing, initiation of treatment and lifelong adherence to such treatment for those living with HIV. But these efforts remain a challenge because when someone is first diagnosed with HIV, they may face a number of social and behavioural barriers.

Men, in particular, face barriers. Among these are a difficulty in accepting their HIV status, disclosure to their loved ones and peers, feeling fearful with a change in lifestyle and a possible lack of knowledge about HIV.

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This platform, developed by Praekelt, aims to support men by engaging them through their phones, either on WhatsApp or SMS. Users receive messages that are tailored to their psychographic characteristics (values, risk profile, perceptions) and based on the stage of their treatment journey (starting treatment, returning to treatment and remaining on treatment).

MenConnect offers a year’s worth of informative and supportive content for men through which they build their knowledge on HIV, antiretroviral treatment and forming positive behaviours. Reminders also provide prompts to visit a clinic for medication pick-ups or check-ups. They are also motivated, through the awarding of badges, to achieve treatment milestones on their MenConnect journey.

Genesis was responsible for crafting behaviourally informed messages that are timed to the treatment journey milestones and tailored per psychographic segment. This is the first time the psychographic segmentation has been applied to improve ARV adherence through a mobile solution in the African context. We are also responsible for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of this pilot project.

This programme is made possible through Gilead Sciences Inc and the MenStar Coalition. MenConnect is implemented through a consortium led by Praekelt and with Jembi Health Solutions providing the technical backbone and interoperability to DHIS2 systems.

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