Stigma and lack of coordination between doctors, nurses and social workers prevent people living with HIV in Africa from accessing community resources. Receiving a new diagnosis of HIV is a terrifying experience. Yet, how do you ask for help without the risk of being ostracized?
Global Strategies, working with Femme Plus in the city of Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo, is using an innovative map to help patients find the help they need. The goal is that the same day a patient receives a diagnosis of HIV, he or she can be directed to a nearby support group.
The Femme Plus team members, equipped with tablets and trained by Global Strategies in taking GPS coordinates, visit care programs and inquire about the services available. They then complete digital questionnaires on the tablets, get a GPS tag on the site's location and transmit the data to Global Strategies. Back in the USA, the data collected is used to design an online map using cartography software and a link to the map is sent back to Congo.
When community members in Bukavu call the Femme Plus toll-free number, the call is received by a Femme Plus team member who is able to access the online map and direct the caller to services. Some callers are concerned that they are at risk for HIV and are looking for a discrete location for HIV testing outside of their neighborhood. Others have received a diagnosis of HIV and are looking for a nearby and accessible support network.