Digitizing the Dialogue: storytelling and solutions are at our fingertips

Global health professionals are implementing new ways to approach sexual health and storytelling.

This blog post was officially posted on the UNCENSORED WRIHC Blog. The 2014 blog is no longer available. The full article is posted below and archived in the link above.

Global health professionals are implementing new ways to approach sexual health and storytelling.

“If you really design an innovative technology, you can break the hard shell,” said Suvakanta N. Swain, Ph.D., a Research Manager at Family Health International in India. The hard shell refers to hard-to-reach populations, like men who have sex with men in India.

Dr. Swain is working on the implementation of a helpline called Sahaay that provides voice and text counseling for men seeking health and psychosocial help. In India, HIV prevalence is high among  transgender individuals and men who have sex with men. His research has shown a small but promising increase in condom use in individuals who utilized Sahaay.

In the South Eastern Asia country of Timor-Leste, a program called Liga Inan, or Mobile Moms, facilitates communication between midwives and expectant mothers before, during, and after labor.

“The idea is that these sorts of projects will create behavior change,” said Susan Thompson, MPH, the Director of Timor-Leste programs for Health Alliance International. Many pregnant women in Timor-Leste tend to seek health care at least once, but will not continue to do so throughout and after the pregnancy.

Midwives register for Liga Inan via text, and pregnant women receive scheduled messages throughout their pregnancy. A few weeks before expected labor, midwives increase communication with expectant mothers.

Working with the Grassroots Girls Initiative, Michaela Leslie-Rule, MPH, taught young girls in Rwanda and Malawi to use cellphones to tell their own stories through video and photos. The young girls were involved with the Firelight Foundation, and the purpose of the storytelling was to document changes and demonstrate their own agency. The girls created stories last spring, and will be creating them again this year to show the impact of the foundation on their lives.

The research of Megan A. Moreno, MD, MSEd, MPH, demonstrates that in America, 18-year-olds who post sexual references on Facebook have self-reported intentions to initiate sex. Dr. Moreno suggests that adolescents who make such references on Facebook are ready to learn about sexual health.

“Sexual displays are influential to others,” said Dr. Moreno, noting the potential for risky sexual behavior among adolescents.

In addition to the existing sexual health resources on the web, Dr. Moreno proposes targeted sexual health education advertisements on Facebook for adolescents who post sexual material.



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