Advances in wireless and smartphone technology have created new avenues for virtual support options that promote ART adherence, improve sexual and reproductive health (SRH) education, provide psychosocial support, and enhance care overall. A heightened sense of urgency for virtual support emerged in 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic threatened to strain, if not completely disrupt, essential health care. After South Africa instituted a national lockdown in March 2020, health facilities and community-based organisations (CBOs) mobilised to implement emergency response plans for decongesting health facilities to limit the exposure of people living with HIV (PLHIV) to Covid-19, while also ensuring that these clients were retained on treatment. These emergency measures included the use of mHealth interventions for virtual case management and support groups.
PATA facilitated a Virtual Support Working Group (VSWG) with the representative members of the Unfinished Business II (UBII) consortium: Wits RHI, Anova Health Institute (Anova), AIDS Foundation South Africa (AFSA), and Health Systems Trust (HST) from June to December 2020. The aim of the working group was to strengthen continued comprehensive care for AYPLHIV through mHealth strategies, focussing on case management and the delivery of support groups and Youth Care Clubs (YCC).