Ashok Kumar/OneWorld South Asia
Panjim, Goa: Now, a mobile application called HELP (HIV Education and Linkage to Prevention) will provide complete information on HIV, increase awareness and risk perception.
The app will also prompt users to access HIV testing from the nearest centre free of cost. Ensuring confidentiality, with bi-lingual facility and easy compatibility, it is expected to reach more than 11 crore people across urban and rural geographies.
The innovative mobile app was launched by the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in collaboration with AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Department of Telecommunications and National AIDS Control Organization.
J P Nadda, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, said that technology can open up endless opportunities to reach the young with authentic information on the services on HIV and AIDS. “Technology and youth are inseparable, however, inadequate access to information and complex messages from various sources can confuse the youth,” he said.
Nadda impressed on the need for using technology to guide and educate youth. “There is a dire need to motivate, inform and guide them. This mobile application, aptly titled, HIV education and linkage to prevention (HELP), will bridge the gap helping the youth to know their HIV status. It will transmit information personally to each of them which is a step ahead of door to door health services.”
Bhanu Pratap Sharma, Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, said that the newly launched mobile app would complement the efforts of early testing and treatment. “It is vital that we use newer technologies to reach young people with messages on HIV. We stand committed to prevent the young generation from HIV/AIDS,” he said.
Navneet S Kang, Additional Secretary and DG, NACO, said that this application would enable the young to assess their risk to HIV and then, take a step forward and get themselves tested.
Kang added that HIV affects the people most at the productive or young ages. “There is a gap between the estimated number of people living with HIV and those who have tested and know their status. It is critical that people know their HIV status early so that a healthy and quality life can be led with the help of treatment,” he said.
Michael Weinstein, President, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, said that the app would aim to reach the unreached, “The collaboration is strategic as we intend to increase testing and reach the unreached through technology. This can only be achieved by greater identification and technology-based initiatives which can generate awareness about HIV and, thereby, lead to greater testing uptake,” he said.
India is one of the youngest countries in the world with 60% of its population less than 24 years of age. Both the Digital India and Skill India missions are the Prime Minister’s twin promises to the youth of India for a better future. With over 200 million mobile internet users in India, there’s a huge potential to club health services with mobile app technology to maximize outreach and coverage at minimal costs.