Congratulations to Dr. Nathan Thielman, and his colleagues Dr. Jan Ostermann (University of South Carolina) and Dr. Bernard Njau (University of Cape Town) on their recent funding award to explore the role that mobile phones and social networks may play in increasing HIV testing in Tanzania. With testing numbers plateauing short of UNAIDS’ goals, these PIs hope to use social networks and the ubiquity of mobile devices to increase testing rates. The CONSORT (Confidential Social Network Referrals for HIV Testing) project will use an “autonomous, open-source, SMS-based approach” to create a confidential testing referral system allowing individuals, in partnership with providers, to encourage members of their networks to get tested.
As an accessible and cost-effective way to reach many people, the PIs hope that should the CONSORT model prove successful, it can be adapted and deployed to address other health interventions in the region. You can read more here.