“Increasing the effectiveness of adherence interventions may have a far greater impact on the health of the population than any improvement in specific medical treatments.” – World Health Organization (WHO)

If you are HIV positive, forgetting to take your medication can be life threatening. HIV treatment involves taking antiretroviral medication every day to lower the viral load in your body. Having an undetectable viral load, one that doesn’t show up in a lab test, is the next best thing to being healthy, and it also eliminates the risk of transmission.

Photo credit — Left: Polina Tankilevitch / Right: Karolina Grabowska

Globally, HIV/AIDS has affected more than 80 million people, half of whom have died from the disease. There are currently more than 37.7 million people living with HIV, according to WHO. South Africa has one of the highest HIV rates in the world. More than 20% of the population between the ages of 15 and 49 has HIV, with 72,000 deaths in 2019.

Project designer Ricky Stoch grew up in South Africa and says she wants to be part of the solution. “Curbing the epidemic requires getting patients on treatment, and keeping them on treatment,” says Stoch.

The key to managing the virus is through finding simple, cost-effective, and innovative strategies to make sure people living with the disease adhere to their daily treatment — not so easy over an entire lifetime. Obstacles such as illiteracy, accessibility and cost also prevent patients from sticking to daily antiretroviral treatment.

Photo credit — cottonbro

Stoch has dedicated herself to design projects that make a tangible impact on people’s lives. As a designer and the founder of Studio Fundi, Stoch knows interdisciplinary thinking and human-centred design have the power to change behaviour and to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems, even the HIV crisis.

Inspired by the packaging of the contraceptive pill designed in the 1960s, Stoch created FebriSol to encourage patients to remember to take their daily dose. A patient simply sticks the label on their bottle, box or packet and scratches off the day’s metallic coating after taking their medication.

FebriSol’s easy-to-use scratch card is the key to changing behaviours, explains Stoch, “It adds an element of gamification, and the patient doesn’t need a pen or any other tool to mark off the day.”

Photo credit: FebriSol

While FebriSol was originally designed to increase adherence to antiretrovirals in the developing world, it can also be applied to almost any daily medication, including heart disease, diabetes, cholesterol, depression and many other chronic conditions that are prevalent in countries around the world.

Recently, the UNAIDS Programme adopted a new Global AIDS Strategy 2021–2026 to get every country and every community on track to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. The strategy will approach the problem from an accessibility lens, working to reduce the inequalities that drive the AIDS epidemic and to prioritize people who are not yet accessing life-saving HIV services.

Photo credit: FebriSol

Stoch hopes that her design will help. “I’d like FebriSol to be accessible to as many people as possible.” Indeed, FebriSol is simple and easy to scale so the potential for global application is huge. And while a lot of resources and funding have been redirected toward managing the pandemic, Stoch remains “cautiously optimistic” about a first roll out in South Africa later this year.

FebriSol is registered in the UK and South Africa and is pending registration in the US.

This project aims to address the following UN Sustainable Development Goals: 3.3 End the AIDS epidemic by 2030; 3.8 Ensure access to safe, effective, quality, and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all; 10. Empower people to claim their rights and enhance access to HIV services

WDO’s World Design Impact Prize™ was established in 2011 to honour and elevate industrial design driven projects that benefit society. The award aims to bring visibility and recognition to socially responsible design initiatives around the world.

View the other World Design Impact Prize 2021 shortlisted projects.