men's health

Getting the Word Out About HIV: Imbizo Men's Health Program

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Feb 28, 2010
Getting the Word Out About HIV: Imbizo Men's Health Program data sheet 4803 Views

(This case study is reprinted with permission from Glen Thompson of

HIV support programme uses SMS to keep men connected

This case study illustrates that the use of appropriate mobile technology has a positive impact on maintaining men’s participation in a health programme focusing on HIV testing and education. 

Recent research findings on the Imbizo Men’s Health Programme indicate that its male participants responded positively to the use of SMS communications. SMS was used to remind participants to go for HIV testing and inform them of upcoming events promoting AIDS and gender awareness. Taken together, this use of mobile technology has played an important part in ensuring that men have remained involved in this public health initiative. 

Basic Information
Organization involved in the project?: 
Project goals: 

The project goals are:

  • To create an SMS system to encourage men's HIV testing
  • To raise awareness of HIV among South African men


Brief description of the project: 

Imbizo is an SMS system that is used to remind male participants about HIV testing, and to inform them of HIV awareness events. 

Target audience: 

The target audience of Imbizo is South African men between the ages of 16 to 55 living in Soweto.

Detailed Information
Length of Project (in months) : 
What worked well? : 

The project was well-received by the participants, who said that they found receiving text messages to be a more private, secure means of communication than other options. Furthermore, Imbizo has had more than 10,000 participants over the course of 5 years, showing that it is a scalable, long-term project. 

What did not work? What were the challenges?: 

Challenges were:

  • Developing a system that engages the particpants
  • Understanding whether there are any behavioural changes that affect actual health outcomes