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Why Aya Contigo exists: An Alternative to Unwanted Pregnancy

Updated: 3 days ago

In the face of a complex humanitarian emergency, violations of the right to sexual and reproductive health and legislation that criminalizes abortion, the lives of pregnant women, trans men and pregnant women in Venezuela are exposed to multiple life-threatening risks. These difficulties were accentuated with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the report "Accompanying us from listening to action" by the organization Faldas R, in 39.2% of the registered cases, women and pregnant women stated that the pandemic had affected their possibilities of preventing unwanted pregnancies. Likewise, 48% indicated that they had had complications in accessing contraceptive methods during their confinement. In this context, the proposal of Aya Contigo was presented as an alternative for women with an unwanted pregnancy. Aya Contigo is a smartphone app and free digital platform that provides information about the process of terminating unwanted pregnancy, contraception and sexuality.

In 2020, studies were initiated to develop it: where, how, when and what kind of approach it would have. Approximately 1,000 women participated in its development, including young women and a dozen Latin American and Venezuelan organizations in conjunction with the main international sexual and reproductive health organizations.

Comprehensive Support Ecosystem

The main idea was to present a simple tool for smartphones, with accurate information, based on the recommendations for safe abortion of the World Health Organization (WHO) and also practical for people with anunwanted pregnancy. However, after a series of previous research, the Aya Contigo team concluded that it could not be just a mobile application and became a virtual platform as well.

The exploratory study reported how people seek help to terminate a pregnancy in Venezuela. Instead of looking for mobile apps or platforms, they ask friends, acquaintances, or someone they trust who could provide timely information. In response to this, it was decided to include an instant messaging hotline in addition to the app.

Another reality that made a difference was thinking about ways to make safe abortion information visible in a restrictive context. One of the solutions was to get involved with different human rights and sexual and reproductive health activist groups. What started as a small tool about unwanted pregnancy, ended up scaling up to something bigger, an ecosystem with the objective of accompanying self-managed abortions and offering information about sexual and reproductive health. A comprehensive information service where the user is the protagonist of her process while being accompanied by a team willing to provide information about her rights and reproductive autonomy.

A Response to Unwanted Pregnancy in Venezuela

A total of 2,400 users were attended at Aya Contigo from March to December 2022; a month where the contraceptive shortage in the country was 58.6% according to a report by the civil association Convite. This number of people not only includes women with an unwanted pregnancy but also consultations regarding sexual and reproductive health, about menstruation, sex, contraception, among other topics. Approximately 200 people per month reach the platform to clarify their doubts or seek timely information.

The accompaniers not only provide information about safe abortion, but also detect any other need, whether psychosocial (e.g. gender-based violence) or medical, in which they can offer counseling and redirect the client to partner organizations that can assist them.

With a View to Continued Growth

"I would like us to be able to provide care to the broad spectrum that includes voluntary and spontaneous abortion. I would like us to be able to provide this accompaniment even to people who have had a natural termination of a desired pregnancy. As if to integrate much more this perspective that abortions happen, whether they are induced or natural, they are part of reproductive life," says Genesis Luigi, community engagement leader of Aya Contigo.

She says she would love for them to be able to accompany the political processes being carried out to change abortion legislation in Venezuela. It is not exactly the work that the organization and the project do, but there is a lot of technical expertise on the part of the Aya Contigo team that is fundamental and also offers support to the country's civil society and in helping people with unwanted pregnancies.

In line with his wishes, he also sees the project as a reference in reproductive health care for non-binary people and trans men in the country. He considers that there is a super big gap also due to funding issues. "We want to finance this project for girls and women, yes, but in all its diversity. Understanding that there are also trans men who have abortions," explains Luigi, using as an example if there is a trans person who is going through an unwanted pregnancy experience, feel that Aya is the place to go to, because there they will give her timely information. "It's like a dream I have, but it also requires work on my part and that of the team, to include more people of sexual diversity," she says.

How to Use Aya Contigo?

To use it from your cell phone or any electronic device with Android operating system, you can get it from the Play Store, there you can download it. Once you download the app you will find information on sexual and reproductive health with guidelines and evidence-based practices, endorsed by the World Health Organization and the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics.

The main topics you will see are dedicated to the alternatives to an unwanted pregnancy; how to perform a self-managed abortion with medication. The explanation is divided into 7 steps. In addition, information is provided on restrictive contexts regarding abortions, decision making free of social stigmas and how to access contraceptive methods. If you are unable to download the app, you can also access this material from our Linktree.

To receive support you must write to the Whatsapp number. When the person enters the virtual chat, guidance and information is provided to clarify their doubts and concerns, reinforcing the confidentiality of the information provided.

Depending on each person, the care team asks questions to learn, accompany in a timely manner and refer to relevant health services. In addition, a case follow-up is done to monitor how the client has been feeling.

If you have had an abortion, the application is also useful and key to choose and learn about contraceptive methods. It offers information on how each method works and invites users to take a test to detect the most appropriate method for their situation. This service can be provided at any time, not only to users who terminate a pregnancy.

The care protocol followed by Aya Contigo is made up of a series of practices and skills that are based on the experience of multiple medical abortion escorts and on the guidelines of institutions such as the American Psychological Association and the International Planned Parenthood Federation. According to the creators of the project in support of women going through an unwanted pregnancy, it is a safe and effective non-clinical counseling model in restrictive environments such as Venezuela, where people cannot access abortions through the health system.

The skills and competencies that characterize Aya Contigo accompaniment are based on active and empathic listening; validation and reassurance; emphasis on approved protocols for medical abortion; as well as networking and accompaniment.

Are you looking for safe and confidential support and accompaniment?

Download the app Aya Contigo.



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