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B the Future: A world first in the fight against AIDS

11 April 2009 Nathea Nicolay - Manager: AIDS Risk Consulting Metropolitan Employee Benefits

In a world first in HIV education, Metropolitan has partnered with CellBook to present the B the Future cellbook - an information booklet on HIV and AIDS which can be downloaded onto your cellphone. B the Future is one of the largest social initiatives to fight HIV and AIDS ever seen in South Africa, potentially reaching over 30 million mobile phone users.

“We want to educate South Africans to know their status and take personal responsibility for managing their health,” says actuary Nathea Nicolay, Metropolitan AIDS Risk Consulting Manager. “If we are going to beat this epidemic, we need a widespread behaviour change. B the Future aims to educate people on how to live positively and also to prevent new infections.”

According to the Metropolitan Live the Future model, the Summer for All People scenario is the only scenario that succeeds in bringing adult HIV prevalence rates down from 20% to 7% by 2025. This scenario is the only scenario that focuses more on prevention than treatment. “South Africa is experiencing a rapid uptake on anti-retroviral treatment, which ironically will give rise to more HIV positive people. People who do not know their status continue to infect others and re-infect themselves. They typically only realise their HIV status once they become AIDS sick when it is almost too late.”

In order to ensure that the information is accessible to everyone, not just those with the latest cellphones, the information has been compressed to below 300 kb so that the entire book can be easily and quickly sent in a single transaction to a mobile phone.

“That's one of the things that makes B the Future so unique,” says Bertus Preller, Marketing Executive for CellBook. “At only R1 per SMS, it is affordable and takes less time than it would to download a ringtone. SMS the word HIV to 32907 and you'll get back everything you need to know about HIV and AIDS.”

B the Future puts basic information about HIV and AIDS into the hands of people who may not have access to the internet, libraries or private health care. An added advantage is that the information remains on the phone so it can be read any time, even if there is no cell signal or if the user has run out of airtime.

Information includes:

  • How do I know my HIV status?
  • How do I prevent HIV infection?
  • I am positive – how do I manage my health?
  • More about anti-retroviral treatment;
  • Support and counselling;
  • Where can I get help?
  • Frequently asked questions

B the Future reinforces the core messaging of always using a condom, knowing your status - get tested and be loyal to your partner, so that, together, we can Live the Future, B the Future.

For more information, please contact http://www.livethefuture.co.za/
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