CITATION: Sophie Cousins. Yes4Me: reaching out to India's key populations online
The Lancet HIV, Volume 6, Issue 5, May 2019, Page e281
This new initiative uses the increasing ubiquity of smartphones in India to encourage people to take an HIV test. The initiative relies on private laboratory partners - apparently people do not trust the confidentiality of public-sector testing. What approaches are being used in other countries and do these also rely on private testing? What are the consequences of large-scale private versus public HIV testing?
Extracts below. Full text is restricted-access.
As India continues to make substantial progress against its HIV epidemic, non-governmental organisations, activists, and the government have realised that to reach the estimated 400 000 people who have HIV but do not know their status innovative solutions are needed. In a country of more than 1·3 billion, there are more than 700 million mobile phone users and more than 330 million smartphone users who are connected to the internet in some of India's most far-flung places.
Following a successful pilot in three cities in the Indian state of Maharashtra last year, the Yes4Me project is being scaled up to 15 cities across the country...
Realising the popularity of dating and hook-up apps including Grindr, Scruff, and Planet Romeo and the potential such online platforms held for gaining access to previously unreached and more diverse populations at risk of HIV, in May last year LINKAGES India launched Yes4Me, which uses a network of outreach workers to engage with app users...
By asking five questions, Yes4Me assesses a person's HIV risk. At the end of the assessment, if the person is deemed to be at-risk, there is an option to book an appointment for a test (for both HIV and syphilis) at one of 56 locations. Once the client books through Yes4Me, an SMS is sent with the appointment details along with a link to a pretest counselling video. A reminder SMS is sent 3 hours before the appointment... It is up to the client whether he or she discloses their HIV status or not.
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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG firstname.lastname@example.org