Background: Kenya currently has an HIV prevalence rate of 6%, equating to around 1.6 million people living with HIV in the country. Kenya is also one of the six HIV ‘high burden’ countries in Africa. (National Aids Control Council 2014). In Kenya, young women have an HIV prevalence of 6.1% – four times higher than their male counterparts. Studies showed knowledge about HIV/AIDS prevention was high amongst youth, however many young people continued to engage in risky behaviours, such as multiple sexual partners and inconsistent condom use. Furthermore, attendance by youth at HIV testing and treatment centres was often low.
In response, in April 2015, Family Health Options Kenya (FHOK) launched their StandOut 22285 SMS information service to increase sexual and reproductive health information and knowledge among young people in Kenya. StandOut22285 is a social media platform spearheaded by Youth Action Movement under FHOK. It was developed with the aim of providing and linking young people with sexual and reproductive health information through mobile technology and social media platforms such as SMS, Facebook & Twitter.
Target Population: Adolescents and Young People, Male and Female, Rural and Urban, Under 25 years of age
Technology: StandOut utilised social media sites to support its SMS service. Click here for full technical details.
Technology Use: The StandOut22285 SMS information service is a free, confidential and interactive 24/7 counselling service providing information on sexual and reproductive health, youth-friendly FHOK clinics, sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS services.
For the SMS component, young people send a text message with the keyword SRH to 22285 and can then follow the instructions and the various menu option numbers they are given to key in, in order to access the relevant information they are seeking. The information is then relayed back to them on their phones via an SMS.
The HIV/AIDS SMS code tailors the message to include available services and referrals to the nearest family health and youth clinics for services such as HIV testing and counselling voluntary medicalized male circumcision and anti-retroviral treatment.
The incoming SMS traffic is analysed periodically to track and report on key metrics such as knowledge gaps and emerging issues related to HIV and STIs among young people. Aside from analysing data the dashboard gives key performance indicators and provides gender disaggregated data for a given duration. It also records which referral facilities have been recommended and when. Messages received are monitored and analysed through the smart care dashboard that automatically synthesizes data in real time and generates scores and ratings on the information young people access frequently.
In addition to the SMS component, StandOut is also active on various social media platforms, providing another avenue to send and receive information on sexual and reproductive health in a confidential manner.
Organization and Partnerships: Family Health Options Kenya (FHOK) has partnered with International Planned Parenthood (IPPF) through its affiliate Youth Action Movement (YAM) to implement this initiative. YAM has been instrumental in reaching young people on the StandOut programme through social media sites.
FHOK is a non-governmental organization that has provide sexual and reproductive health services in Kenya for the last five decades. They are currently present in 14 counties out of 47 within the country, with strong grassroots networks. FHOK has been active in providing sustainable, innovative and comprehensive services in response to health and socio-economic needs of Kenyans.
The International Planned Parenthood Federation is a UK-based global non-governmental organization with the broad aims of promoting sexual and reproductive health, and advocating the right of individuals to make their own choices in family planning.
Challenges and Lessons Learned: An analysis of the SMS system conducted from January to June 2015 showed that the largest number of queries related to HIV/AIDS (25%) with questions about family planning methods second (20%). In addition, it was found there had been an increase in young people accessing Voluntary, Counselling and Testing (VCT) services at the FHOK clinics referred to in the messages, as well as a higher uptake of condoms at these clinics.
The FHOK team stressed that it is vital that services like this include a data capturing system, such as the smart care dashboard, as this helps service providers know how to tailor and package information to suit young people’s needs. It’s also vital that young people do not receive information alone but that, where appropriate, this is received as part of a wider package that includes clinic and services referrals.
This case study was compiled using online Family Health Options Kenya (FHOK) and International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) sources:
- HIV Situation in Kenya. Retrieved from http://blog.opendata.go.ke/hiv-situation-in-kenya/. Accessed on 21 March 2017.
Image source: Family Health Options Kenya (FHOK)