Grassroot Soccer has recently incorporated SMS technology to reinforce key HIV prevention messages with students in South Africa.
In collaboration with the University of the Witwatersrand’s Reproductive Health and HIV Institute and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, GRS is running a three-year Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) to evaluate the effectiveness of our Generation Skillz Intervention on grade 9 participants’ HIV-related knowledge, attitudes, and behavior. As a nested study, a subset of the participants will receive follow-up SMSes reinforcing key themes from the curriculum. The population with which GRS works in South Africa – secondary school students in townships – has limited access to the Internet, but nearly all have access to a cell phone.
In formulating the nested study, GRS needed a way to send SMSes to participants in a quick, easy, reliable manner. Because GRS uses a customized Salesforce database to house our program and impact data, we needed to find an application to send SMSes that could integrate with this existing platform. SMS Magic proved the be an excellent solution because it integrates seamlessly with GRS’ existing platform, ensuring that the correct SMSes get sent to the correct participants at the right time. GRS can even send different SMSes to boys and girls. Participants of the GRS Generation Skillz Intervention will receive biweekly SMSes for an entire year.
The initial results have been very encouraging, as the feedback from the participants has been overwhelmingly positive. SMSes are a popular medium among youth, and receiving HIV-related information directly to their cell phone may make a difference in graduates’ sustained HIV-related knowledge, attitudes, and behavior. It may challenge them to continue the conversation even after they have graduated from the GRS program and to spread key messages to their friends and family.