Stepped Care Model for Sexual Health

Stepped Care Model for Sexual Health

Having the right information and service in the right place, at the right time delivered by the right digital solution or person to meet the specific needs of young people.

That is what Stepped Care is about.

This year, Stepped Care – an innovative and holistic sexual and reproductive health self-care model created by our organization, with over 10 years of success in the Netherlands – has expanded to South Africa and Kenya.

Stepped care guidelines for download

We are currently working on a document that provides an overview of experiences, lessons and challenges in implementing the Stepped Care Model. The guidelines are meant for implementers, researchers, policy-makers and donors to reduce fragmentation, stimulate cooperation between health providers and support young people to lead healthy sexual and reproductive lives.

The publication will be available in February 2022. Keep an eye on this web page, our Twitter and LinkedIn to know when the guidelines will be published and available for download.

Illustration of young person waiting Illustration of young person waiting

Why a stepped care model?

Everybody is different. So young people have different kinds of issues, problems and information needs when it comes to sexual and reproductive health. Some may be helped by reading a self-help online article, watching an instructional video, or taking an online risk assessment. Others could benefit from a phone-call with a peer-support group or online chat with a health professional. Still others may a physical examination or long-term treatment from a licensed doctor. Different services need to be provided to meet the different needs of young people, aligned with the level of complexity and level of self-care possible.

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How it works

Stepped Care encourages all stakeholders in the field of sexual and reproductive health for young people to collaborate and coordinate their efforts with unified branding, messages and links between services. The results of this coordination guides individuals to a web-based platform, a delivery point with broad reach and low-cost, as an entry point to provide quality, age-appropriate and engaging comprehensive SRHR sex-positive information. From this point, digitally-delivered personalized information guides the individual through self-assessment and self-awareness journeys to provide tailored advise and refers them to additional online and offline services according to their needs. As the individual moves through their care-seeking journey, they are referred to higher steps of the model that incorporate more human contact through chat services, hotlines and eventually face-to-face services with healthcare and medical professionals as needed.


The Stepped Care Model stimulates researchers, designers and implementers to understand and form meaningful partnerships within the existing implementation context. To open opportunities for collaboration, compromise and to join forces rather than designing an independent app or SMS service. All stakeholders working together with the same messages and under the same branding can achieve higher levels of sustainability, increase reach of messages and services, and ultimately lower the burden on the healthcare system.

Stepped Care has potential to expand provision of good quality HIV prevention and care more widely into areas of public health care, SRH and HIV services

- WHO Technical expert


The Stepped Care Model provides a good perspective on how digital interventions can be integrated into the physical space. It opens many opportunities I haven’t seen before.

– Director of Praekelt


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8 ways how Stepped Care is changing the game

  1. Increases access to sex-positive and youth-friendly Comprehensive Sexuality Education
  2. Increases access and uptake of self-care products and health services for (marginalized) youth
  3. Empowers young people by building self-efficacy, health literacy and self-care
  4. Lowers burden on the health care system
  5. Reduces cost and more efficient use of health care services and resources
  6. Facilitates integration digital health solutions into formal health system
  7. Decreases the fragmentation of youth programs and digital solutions
  8. Increases collaboration among donors, government, private, multi-lateral and international organizations and implementers
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Built on 10 years of success – time to scale

Together with the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and Environment, Soa Aids Nederland & Aidsfonds have built up the Stepped Care Model in the Netherlands around the youth-brand Sense. This brand provides all youth-friendly online and offline information and education, advice and primary and secondary care in SRHR and HIV/AIDS to all young people in the Netherlands. Building upon 10 years of experience from Sense in the Netherlands, Aidsfonds has taken the initiative to scale the model internationally. Currently we are contextualizing Stepped Care in Kenya and South-Africa.

B-wise is zero-rated. This means you'll be able to access the website on your phone even if you don't have data - Mathume Joseph Phaahla, Deputy Minister of Health in South Africa


In South-Africa the Stepped Care Model is built around youth-brand B-wise. B-wise was launched on the 25th of August 2020 by the Deputy Minister of Health.

In South-Africa, led by the National Department of Health and Aidsfonds, a strategic partnership has been established that brings together all key international and national stakeholders working on adolescents & youth health. Key partners include National Department of Education, Clinton Health Access Initiative, World Health Organization, Wits RHI, LoveLife, MTV Shuga, UNITAID, Gates foundation, and more are joining the initiative.

B.Wise Logo B.Wise Logo


In Kenya the Stepped Care Model is being built around youth-brand One2One. One2One was launched in February 2021. A strategic partnership has been formed with LVCT Health, PSI,  Praekelt and Aidsfonds and more partners are joining the initiative – through the Digital Health Coalition of Adolescence and Youth Kenya, that is led by One2One.

Logo One2One Logo One2One

Self-Care is crucial

According to the WHO self-care interventions are among the most promising and exciting new approaches to improve health and well-being. The World Health Organization (WHO) uses the following working definition of self-care: Self-care is the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.

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