Counselling and testing remain key components of HIV/AIDS prevention as they provide an entry point into prevention, care, treatment and support services. The current HIV counselling model in South Africa is however outdated and non-standardized. To address the issue of out-dated counselling modules and low human capacity for counselling, Aviro Health, with the support of The Foundation for Professional Development (FPD) is developing an open-sourced, digitised HIV counselling syllabus produced specifically with patients in mind and contextualized for various populations / scenarios, that can be easily consumed via mobile phone. Engaging with the NDOH and stakeholders, we are also developing a strategy for the implementation and dissemination of this open-source content to ensure uptake across multiple channels and partnerships.
Our goal is not to replace counsellors with the content and with digital distribution, but rather to empower them and to be able to manage more clients on a daily basis. By handing over the routine drudgery of the typical counselling session to a “digital counsellor”, counsellors will be able to focus on the atypical/concerning cases and to see more patients in a given day. A successful program will open up innovative ways to support the NSP 2017-2022 in that it will break the cycle of transmission by efficiently and effectively educating individuals (particularly at risk populations) via a medium with which they are already very familiar with. Most importantly, in a country like South Africa where there is a 68% mobile phone penetration rate, digitized and contextualized HIV counselling has the potential to reach more people with comprehensive and customized content.
The newly created content will be premiered at an Innovation conference in November 2019 and will be made available for health providers from January 2020.