While studies have looked at the effectiveness of cell phones in delivering short reminders and messages to improve health care, this study evaluated the effectiveness of a structured cell phone counseling intervention, informed by behavioral theory and delivered by trained counselors. The counseling was designed to improve maternal retention in care until 14 weeks after birth and uptake of early infant diagnosis/HIV testing in Kisumu, Kenya. The project was called the Healthy Mother Healthy Baby Project.
Tailored, one-on-one counseling delivered via cell phone was very effective in retaining mothers with HIV in care and in promoting infant HIV testing and antenatal and postnatal care attendance. Counselors made an average of 4.8 attempts before placing a successful call to participants. The highest risk of loss to follow-up among women with HIV accessing PMTCT services was prior to delivery and then after infant HIV testing at 6 weeks. However, researchers concluded that one-on-one tailored counseling delivered via cell phone was effective in retaining mothers with HIV infection in care and promoting uptake of infant HIV testing and antenatal and postnatal care services. Phone counseling offers a practical approach to reach and retain pregnant women with HIV infection and postpartum mothers in care, but greater emphasis on collection of medications and adherence is required.