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October 27, 2008

Text Messages Urge HIV Testing in South Africa

About 350,000 people die of AIDS-related diseases in South Africa every year. Project Masiluleka hopes to reduce those deaths by sending a million free text messages a day to urge people to get tested and treated for HIV/AIDS, reports.

“HIV testing is widely available…but only 5 percent have managed to test for HIV,” said HIV activist Zinny Thabethe, who works with Project Masiluleka. A trial period of the project resulted in a 200 percent increase in calls to the National AIDS helpline in Johannesburg.

The project is slated for December 1, using the Please Call Me system common across Africa. A typical message will read: “Worried that you might have HIV and want to talk to a counselor about getting tested? Call AIDS helpline 0800012322.” The message will be sent in English and other local languages.

Search: South Africa, Project Masiluleka, text messages

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