With approximately 29% of pregnant South African women being HIV+, it’s crucial that action is taken to reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT). Unfortunately, for many newly diagnosed women, this can be a time of intense loneliness, anxiety and depression. In addition, the social stigma of HIV prevents some from seeking the treatment that would keep both them and their baby safe and healthy. It’s for these reasons that Indigo is delighted to announce a grant of £15,000 to the SHM Foundation to scale-up Project Kopano. Based in Pretoria, Kopano is a project that creates mutual support networks that use SMS to connect HIV+ mothers to one another, enabling them to share experiences, fears and doubts and to ask questions of the health professionals or mentors that are on hand to provide expert advice and reassurance.
The first part of Indigo’s grant will be used to allow SHM to develop a mobile/online training tool detailing how to go about setting up SMS support groups, so that communities across South Africa – or indeed anywhere else – will be able to establish their own groups for HIV+ mothers. The development of the training tool is critical if SHM Foundation are to build on the fantastic results shown in their pilot studies. The tool will provide:
- Access to the most up to date and accurate information on how to provide social support to pregnant women living with HIV/AIDS.
- An understanding of the current issues and concerns affecting pregnant women living with HIV/AIDS, particularly in their local communities.
- Advice on how best to provide social and medical support using the medium of SMS.
The second part of the grant will be used to develop a Myth Buster application. One of the findings of the Foundation was that there were a lot of myths and uncertainties surrounding HIV and pregnancy. The Myth Buster application will be piloted for three months in a number of clinics and will look to encourage those attending clinics to text any queries that they have about information that they have regarding HIV and pregnancy where they are unsure if the information is accurate or not. The user will then receive a response to their query from the project team along with supporting information.
We’re delighted to be able to support this project and look forward to updating you all with its progress over the coming months.