The 117 AIDS Helpline employs part time medical doctors and social workers working in two shifts to provide service to callers on HIV/AIDS, TB, STIs, VMMC and PMTCT in English and Swahili. Helpline counsellors are responsible for providing quality telephone counselling and accurate, up to date information to callers. When applicable, counsellors refer callers to specific resources or services in their communities. Throughout the call, counsellors collect data about the caller for statistical purposes.
The Helpline has two comprehensive databases. The first database records all incoming call statistics that are call duration, time of call, call status etc. The caller’s number is not recorded.
Each counsellor using an intranet web page fills the second database. This database records specific information about each call counselling. The counsellors obtain information from two sources: electronic information from the intranet database and a hard copy reference. The database also tracks the number of calls received, basic demographics about callers and the main reasons for each call.
Since the program was upgraded in 2008 to date;
- More than 13,396,000 calls have been received
- Amongst the callers, 68% had tested for HIV, generally more males (71%) are calling as compared to females. For those who said they had tested positive (83%) more males are calling Hotline as compared to females.
- Most (84%) of the callers were single and only 14% were married, while 2% of callers were divorced, Around 61% of all calls came from 25 regions almost in equal proportion. The remaining 39% of calls were mostly from three regions: Dar es Salaam (17%), Tanga (14%) and Arusha (8%).
Importance of 117 Afya/AIDS Helpline
- To create a positive environment to counsel people infected and affected by the HIV virus to manage stress, receive support, provide referrals to additional services, and improve their emotional wellbeing.
- To provide referral services to support individuals to manoeuvre through the complex network of health service providers and access care and support services.
- To provide accurate health information to equip individual to live healthier, happier and longer lives if HIV positive and change risky behaviours, It also encourages counselling and testing and provides callers with more information on antiretroviral therapy.
There is great potential in private public partnership in creating valuable interventions for HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment programs.
TAYOA has capitalized on its strong relationships with Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) and Ministry of Communication Science and Technology (MOSCT) and mobile phone companies to launch the complementing ICT-based services to increase the likelihood of reaching larger numbers of Tanzanian youth with HIV/health information.
Unlike many other service provision points, the National AIDS Helpline attracts significantly more men than women. A possible explanation for the discrepancy is the integration of Reproductive and Child Health (RCH) services with HIV/AIDs prevention. RCH clinics provide an opportunity for women to learn and ask questions about their sexual health. Men are less likely to seek clinical services and therefore have fewer opportunities to engage in conversation about HIV/AIDS and sexual health. It is also possible that fewer men feel comfortable openly discussing their health and find the anonymous Helpline a more attractive outlet to raise their concerns.