Every hour, about three Zambian youth aged 15-24 years old get infected with HIV. Young people are more vulnerable when they have limited comprehensive HIV prevention information, are not equipped with life skills and do not utilize HIV high impact prevention services such as condoms, male circumcision, HIV testing and treatment.
In Zambia, UReport provides confidential, free of charge, individualized and interactive 24/7 counseling services on HIV and STIs to a growing number of 48,000 adolescents and youth. This open source SMS-based system is a vital doorway to information for young people who might not have access to an internet café or mobile data.
The counselor web-interface allows for quality control of the SMS counseling to ensure that the right knowledge is being transferred in a respectful and empathetic way. In addition, the platform enables tailored SMS demand creation for available services, and referral to the UReporter’s closest location for HIV Testing and Counseling, Voluntary Medicalised Male Circumcision and Anti-Retroviral Treatment. The incoming SMS traffic is analyzed periodically to track and report on key knowledge gaps and emerging issues related to HIV and STIs among young people.
In addition to the SMS counseling, polls are conducted periodically to get the opinions of young people. In order to ensure a high response rate, all polls sent to UReporters are first vetted by a closed Facebook group comprising only young people below the age of 24. This ensures that the messages endorsed by the National AIDS Council are re-phrased into a language that the youth can relate to and respond to honestly.
The software environment was built on from the original application by a local developer using the open-source software of RapidSMS.