Helping young Africans to combat HIV/AIDS with multi-format informationBy Praekelt Foundation
Young Africa Live is an initiative by the Praekelt Foundation. It is dedicated to educating young people about sex, HIV/AIDS, rape and gender issues in a lively and fun, mobile-web format.
Launched on World Aids Day 2009, it took just 15 months to reach 350,000 users, and now has a community of 1.8m, making it one of the largest private social networks in South Africa.
The platform has some permanent content: health information about HIV and AIDS, the numbers of helplines and support organisations, plus provocative news stories and features, celebrity-led stories, quizzes, video downloads, daily polls, live-chats with doctors and relationship experts, and guest blogs on specific experiences and issues. It set out to educate and encourage discussion of love, sex and relationships in the country with the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the world. It aims to encourage more young people to get tested for the disease, by providing links to voluntary counselling and testing centres. The site is now expanding to Tanzania and Kenya.
It runs an annual sex poll, on subjects ranging from teenage pregnancy to condom use and attitudes on circumcision and sexual violence. Its 2013 survey had an unprecedented 323,000 respondents, most aged between 16 and 24, giving a vital benchmark of current attitudes and behaviours.
Praekelt avoided branding the site an AIDS portal to avoid the stigma. 'We realised that no source of interesting HIV/AIDS or sexual health information could be found on [South Africa’s most popular] portals and that this created a massive opportunity,' says Marcha Neethling, head of operations at Praekelt.
Young Africa Live 's team is actively looking for partners to localise its content to perform a similar function for young people in other countries with high AIDS prevalence, such as India, Brazil and Bangladesh.
Image courtesy of techmtaa.com
Last updated: 19th of September, 2014