MobileActive08: HIV/AIDS support groups via SMS

Power of Mobile Group Communication – HIV/AIDS support groups
Anna Kydd – SHM

Project called Zumbido, in Mexico: support networks for those living with HIV/AIDS sufferers anonymously but intimately and conveniently.

Project development: lots of workshops, meetings with stakeholders. Pilot ran with 40 participants for three months. Groups of 10, mostly HIV positive, also family and health workers. All messages sent to everyone in the group, to build group cohesion.

Huge message volumes! Average 1000/week/group sustained, and messages remained relevant to HIV issues. Participants’ social networks expanded, felt supported, and perspectives to HIV/AIDS and the epidemic had changed. Also debate crossing lines of class, gender, sexuality, etc. Improved mental health, self management of treatment and other life issues.

Sustainability of model: expensive for messages! Socially, though, the groups did not require moderation or supervision. Good for empowering people to use phones, and especially good for working women who may not be able to attend support groups. Interestingly, though, many groups would NOT want to continue the project indefinitely.

I really think this model would work excellently over MXit, as this solves the price problem. Luckily, apparently Cell-Life are working on exactly this! Good to see.