Posted by: DigitalAmazon on Jul 31, 2011
HIV/AIDS has plagued South Africa for many years now. The infection rate is among the highest in the world. According to estimates drawn from surveys, one out of three women under age 25 are living with HIV. In 2009 a phone-based counselling centre called RedChatZone was launched to support and to give information to those living with HIV.
There are approximately 36 million active cell phone users, and around 80 percent of all youth and adults have a cell phone. This makes RedChatZone a perfect counselling service as it can reach a great portion of the South African population.
RedChatZone was started by Cell-Life, an organization that uses mobile phone technology to strengthen the response to people living with HIV/AIDS, in partnership with the government’s national hotline.
This service not only provides users with information about HIV but does so in a convenient way using text chatting as a medium of communication. The youth is very comfortable with using mobile phones to communicate and this service has made counselling reachable to millions of individuals.
Some individuals live in remote areas where they don’t have access to clinics and cannot be given proper counselling. Now individuals have an opportunity to use instant messaging to receive adequate counselling from professional counsellors.
RedChatZone uses Mxit so as to send information instantly and at a low cost. There are currently 18 million users of MXit in South Africa, therefore this service is affordable to use.
This service has been said to have great advantages because a lot more people can receive counselling simultaneously. The conversations can be resumed at any point. If the client has to go and do something, the conversation can be carried on later.
It also allows the counsellor to see previous conversations with a client, therefore the history can be recorded. This is not a present feature in phone counselling as clients have to restart their story each time.
Another important advantage is the privacy the service affords the clients. They don’t have to worry about being overheard, and youth spend a lot of time on their mobiles; no one needs know that they are actually chatting about HIV.