USSD testing report: communication sharing practices and needs of people living with HIV: a case of Nkangala in Mpumalanga and Ekurhuleni in Gauteng
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Communication efforts and strategies for ART adherence as reflected in South Africa's National Strategic Plan on HIV, TB, and STIs 2017-2022 are increasingly being considered as a way of supporting people living with HIV (PLHIV) in South Africa. The National Department of Health (NDoH), National Trends of STI 2015/16 provides ample research evidence which suggests that non-adherence to treatment continues to be a threat towards achieving positive health outcomes for PLHIV, and that efforts should be made to facilitate adherence. Many of
the interventions that have been implemented in other countries to facilitate retention into care and improve adherence focus more on reducing the time PLHIV spend in a health facility and on decongesting overcrowded clinics (Gonzelez-Perez, et al., 2013; Maharaj, et al., 2013). In South Africa, the Centre for Communication Impact (CCI) has identified a communication strategy as an essential tool to improve adherence. A part of this strategy is the purported use of mobile health (Mhealth) in the form of SMS (short message service) messaging. Akter and Ray (2010) define mHealth as the use of mobile communications such as mobile phones, monitoring devices, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and other wireless devices for health services and health information sharing. Some of the uses they cite as common are: creating, storing, retrieving, and transmitting data in real time to improve the quality of patient care.