By Julie Pascault (Courtesy of AHF)
COVID-19 in the Netherlands, like everywhere, has challenged health systems and workers to continue providing the same valuable services that clients need and expect. In an effort to boost HIV testing and communication with clients, and particularly those in key populations, AHF Netherlands incorporated the popular WhatsApp application into its HIV testing program, resulting in a 150% increase in new client interactions.
Clients were previously accessing services at AHF Checkpoint facilities via walk-ins and telephone screenings, but by using WhatsApp, AHF was able to connect with 10 new clients per day. The changes allowed for increased scheduled appointments and social distancing in clinics, and more importantly, provided more face-to-face time for counseling.
“During the time of COVID-19, there was a need for more effective ways of communicating with clients – to do that we really had to change up the way our workflow was organized,” said Anna Żakowicz, Deputy Bureau Chief and Director of Programs for AHF Europe. “WhatsApp allowed us to be more responsive to clients and continue providing the services that are very much needed.”
A client added that they really liked the option of contacting AHF via WhatsApp because the fear of HIV periodically popped into their mind. After a quick online search, they found the website, could immediately start a chat via WhatsApp and get tested the same day – which relieved the stress they were experiencing for months.