BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic brought renewed emphasis on the strategic use of online to offline (O2O) interventions, since in-person outreach was reduced, and HIV service options were often limited. In Thailand, Nepal, and the Philippines, USAID EpiC Project-supported community-based organizations and hospitals adapted multiple O2O approaches to reach and test key populations, with a focus on reaching undiagnosed HIV-positive individuals. We identify and analyze here the impacts of these O2O approaches in the three countries from October 2021-September 2022.
DESCRIPTION: Social influencers, targeted ads, and online outreach engaged sexual, drug-use, and chemsex networks to promote HIV testing on social media and chat apps, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LINE, TikTok, Grinder, Hornet, and Blued. A unique online reservation web application permitted in-depth analysis of client flow from the source of client online exposure to messaging through clinic attendance and service utilization, e.g., HIV testing.
LESSONS LEARNED: In Thailand, O2O interventions brought in 11% of all project-supported HIV testing clients (5% HIV case detection). A majority of online clients were reached by Facebook, but two apps – Blued and Twitter – had the highest case detection (10.4% and 7.8%, respectively). In Nepal, O2O interventions brought in 10.3% of all HIV testing clients, and Facebook was the most common site for recruiting clients (57% of all O2O activity). A total of 8.4% of clients tested through O2O interventions were positive, though some platforms showed higher case detection, e.g. Whatsapp, 11.1%. In the Philippines, O2O interventions specifically assisted project-supported government hospitals where they contributed more than one-third (37%) of the clients HIV tested and almost one-fifth (19%) of all identified HIV cases. At one government facility, the on-line reservation app contributed 56% of all HIV testing and 79% of all identified HIV cases.
CONCLUSIONS: Differentiated O2O interventions focused on key populations clearly demonstrated their added value in HIV testing and case finding across three countries. Programs need to regularly analyze the effectiveness of specific platforms, use innovations such as online reservation apps that allow more in-depth analysis, and continually adapt O2O interventions so that they remain impactful and relevant to KP’s dynamic use of social media.