Because male circumcision (MC) reduces the risk of female-to-male HIV-1 transmission by up to 60%, nearly 10.4 million voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) procedures were performed in sub- Saharan Africa where the HIV epidemic is most concentrated. VMMC is safe: the average rate of moderate and severe adverse events (AEs) at the country level is 0.8%, corresponding to 99% of men healing without incident. To reach the global target of 20 million by 2018, VMMC productivity needs to double in countries already plagued by severe healthcare worker shortages like Zimbabwe. The ZAZIC consortium partners with the Zimbabwe Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) and performed over 120,000 VMMCs. Current VMMC care in Zimbabwe requires in-person, follow-up visits at post-operative days 2,7, and 42. Over 95% adhere to multiple follow-up visits within 14 days of VMMC. ZAZIC?s program has an overall AE rate of 0.4%; therefore, overstretched clinic staff conducted more than 200,000 unnecessary reviews for VMMC clients without complications. High mobile phone ownership, severe healthcare worker shortages, and rapid VMMC scale up make ZAZIC?s VMMC program an ideal setting to test a mobile health (mHealth) intervention to reduce provider workload while safeguarding patient safety. Through an un-blinded, prospective, randomized, control trial (RCT) in high-volume facilities providing VMMC, ZAZIC will implement an interactive, two-way texting (2wT) intervention to identify men healing without complication, allowing them to decline routine in-person follow up visits. 2wT will simultaneously identify men with any sign of an adverse event, encouraging rapid in-person follow-up when an AE is suspected on any day, reducing unnecessary visits while maintaining quality care.
We aim to 1) determine if 2wT can safely reduce VMMC follow-up visits; 2) estimate the cost savings associated with 2wT over routine VMMC follow-up; and 3) assess the acceptability and feasibility of 2wT for further scale-up. It is expected that this intervention with be as safe as routine care while providing distinct advantages in terms of efficiency, costs, and reduced healthcare worker burden. This approach is innovative as it focuses on using a low-cost mHealth intervention to reduce provider workload without deterioration in quality care. The success of this intervention could lead to adoption of this intervention at the national level, increasing efficiency of VMMC scale up and reducing burdens on providers and patients. ZAZIC?s international, interdisciplinary team will build the capacity among local research colleagues and MoHCC collaborators, helping the Zimbabwean team become future leaders in mHealth research.
Through an un-blinded, prospective, randomized control trial in high-volume facilities providing voluntary medical male circumcision, we will implement an interactive, two-way texting intervention to identify men healing without complication, allowing them to decline routine in-person follow up visits. We will compare the safety, costs, and feasibility of this intervention to reduce in-person follow-up without deterioration of quality care. It is expected that this intervention will be as safe as routine care while providing distinct advantages in terms of efficiency, costs, and reduced healthcare worker burden.