This short message service (SMS)-based contest was an effort to increase HIV/AIDS knowledge and discussion among youth aged 15 to 24 in Kenya using mobile phones. The objective of the contest, which ran from April 23 to June 27 2005, was to engage youth in discussions about HIV and AIDS by encouraging them to seek and find information on HIV/AIDS through SMS. The project was implemented by Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) with funding from the Vodafone Group Foundation through the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
Communication Strategies: 

As part of the contest, youth tried to win prizes by finding and submitting answers to questions related to HIV/AIDS. Questions focused on prevention, living with HIV/AIDS, stigma, voluntary counselling and testing (VCT), and care and support. The questions were linked to youth role models and personalities in music, sports, politics, and entertainment. Contestants looked for answers to the questions in a special eQuest column in the newspaper, and then sent in their answers by SMS. Four questions per 10-day round were sent to registered contestants by SMS during the 5-round contest. Answers to each round's questions were found within a special eQuest story that appears in the newspaper. Winners were identified in the paper at the end of each round and at the end of the contest. Contestants who submitted correct answers for each round were eligible for the grand prizes, a home theatre system and desktop computers. Some of the other prizes included camcorders, Hi-Fi music systems, mobile phones, DVD players, digital cameras, CD discmans, scratch cards, CDs, T-shirts, and caps.

The winners were announced in July 2005 during the eQuest Electric, a daylong event in Nairobi featuring prizewinners, musicians, artists, celebrities, entertainment, theatre, and dance.

As part of eQuest, Kenya's top young musicians recorded a song to raise awareness to HIV/AIDS. The song, entitled Vumilia, encourages young people to think about their behaviours and their relationships in order to protect themselves against HIV/AIDS. The song promotes abstinence, being faithful, using condoms, and making healthy choices. It has been played on FM stations and can be downloaded for free here.

Development Issues: 

HIV/AIDS, Youth.

Key Points: 

eQuest began with a regional contest on the coast from March 5 to April 1 2005, and more than 20,000 young people competed for 356 winning prizes. Over 10,000 young people participated in the first round of the national contest; 349 won prizes. In total, more than 120,000 people throughout Kenya participated in the national eQuest contest.

Partner Text: 

PATH, Vodafone Group Foundation, Elton John AIDS Foundation.


Email from Stephanie Martin to The Communication Initiative on May 22 2005; and PATH website on February 10 2009.