YeAH! (Youth e-aid on HIV Testing & Counselling)
The Namibian government has identified HIV Testing & Counselling (HTC) as one of the key strategies to mitigate the impact of the disease amongst young people. While research shows that knowledge about where to get tested is high, the uptake of HTC amongst the 15 to 24 age group remains low. Barriers identified are mostly fear, low risk perception, lack of transportation and non-availability of HTC service on the weekends. That is the reason why UNICEF is supporting the MoHSS and MoE in a pilot program that will bring mobile HTC services to schools together with the YeAH! app that has the aim of putting young people at ease.
The intended purpose was to address the problem of low uptake of HIV Test and Counselling (HTC) among young people and so to reach them, something was needed which was both friendly and appealing. To increase the uptake of HTC, the barriers keeping young people from taking action needed to be addressed. These included fears, low risk perception, lack of transportation and non-availability of HTC on weekends.
THE SOLUTION: YEAH!
Yeah! (Youth e-Aid in HIV Testing & Counselling) is an app supporting HIV Testing & Counselling for young people. The app is having the functions of (1) Assessing the level of HIV risk of the user (the test for the test); (2) explaining the steps of HTC; (3) Clarifying what are the implications of being positive and negative and (4) Providing information on sexuality and reproductive health. Finally, the user will be able to rate the application as well as leave a comment.
The YeAH! project was started to ensure young people know whether they need an HIV test or not (are they at risk?) as well as understand what the implications of being HIV positive or negative are. Also the app will give them access to critical information on sexuality and reproductive health. The idea of YeAH! was envisioned by UNICEF Namibia but the concept was discussed with different stakeholders and it was also presented to the e-Learning Africa Conference in June 2013.
DEVELOPING THE APP
The app is being developed by Green Solutions, a locally based company specialised in Information & Technology, with the support of both the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health and Social Services. Development Aid from People to People (DAPP), a locally based NGO, will be operating the app on tablets supplied by UNICEF in the framework of a pilot intervention in schools. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will evaluate whether the use of the app is having an impact on both actual testing and intention for testing.
The app is currently being developed in one language only (English, which is the only official language of Namibia). With Namibia being a very diverse country in term of ethnicity and languages, it is envisioned that the app will be also developed in one of the local language from the Oshiwambo group of dialects and in Afrikaans.
The first prototype version is currently being finalised and will be ready for release by January 2014. The next step is to pilot the app in conjunction with HTC operated in school settings. This will take place with learners in grade 11 and 12 in a total of 16 schools of 2 regions of Namibia (Oshana and Omusati regions) during the two first school terms of year 2014.