AIDS is now the leading cause of death among young people in Africa. Estimates suggest that 740,000 additional youth could become infected by 2030. Surveys show that, between 2011 and 2016, only 11% of youth in sub-Saharan Africa had tested for HIV in the last 12 months. Increasing access to HIV Testing and Counselling (HTC) is vital to prevent further transmission. A study in South Africa found that HTC among youth meant 41% fewer cases of HIV transmission.
Social media and associated technologies are already substantially integrated into the lives of youth. A digital intervention for testing, linkage to care, and adherence that fits into the already complex and challenging lives of youth, has great potential to strengthen youth’s ability to respond to and more effectively self-manage HIV.
Co-designed with youth, Aviro and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) developed HIV counselling content tailored for youth that speaks to them and their existing knowledge, hopes and fears. This will be made available on Khetha (meaning “Choice” in Xhosa), a platform specifically for youth built on the Ithaka mobile platform, that assists patients through testing, results reporting and linkage to care while integrating the values of autonomy, privacy and choice into the entire experience.
Using this platform, MSF and Aviro are looking to improve HIV support to youth and increase testing rates while also improving the data- and evidence- base around youth knowledge, attitudes and behaviours towards HIV testing and linkage to care in order to advocate for change in HIV programs and policies for youth.