HIV awareness goes mobile

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Text messages will be sent to mobile phones in South Africa to encourage people to be tested and treated for HIV/AIDS.

Project Masiluleke will send one million texts a day to South Africans after it is launched on 1 December. The messages are written in English and local languages such as Zulu, and will include prompts to call helplines. Many of the messages were composed with the assistance of local communities.

Trials of the system increased calls to the National Aids Helpline by 200 per cent.

The system will use PCM or ‘please call me’ messages. These are free to send and are often used by people with no prepaid phone credit to ask their friends to call them.

It is estimated that there are around 43 million mobile phone handsets in South Africa, which has a population of 49 million people.

Information about tuberculosis will eventually be available on the system as well.

Link to full article in BBC Online