Russia Turning to mHealth for HIV Control

With rampant HIV infection across Russia linked to injection drug use, the Health and Development Foundation – a Russian NGO responsible for public health communication and outreach – is turning to mHealth to help curb the transmission of HIV.

BSR reports that statistics on Russian HIV prevalence indicate that “an estimated 80% of all new cases of HIV infection from 1987 to 2008 were associated with injection drug use and opioid dependence, and the number of HIV+ women is also increasing.”

The mHealth program in question targets Russia’s most at-risk population, namely, clients with a history of injection drug use or HIV. The goal is to keep the at-risk groups informed and connected to a multi-sectoral medical and social support network and system of care.

In 2010, the Health and Development Foundation launched a pilot version of this mHealth initiative… Selected clients received individual counseling, and upon release from the hospital, these women received text messages, developed by relevant health care specialists, with content related to counseling topics.

“This program is temporarily on hiatus due to lack of funding,” says Sara Buzadzhi of BSR, “but the regional network of experts, government supporters, and centers is still in place, as well as the text message platform used in the pilot. When funding is secured, HDF is prepared for a regional re-launch of both the woman-specific and larger program, both with the text-message component, and then to scale the program up to the national level.”

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