Sport to spread the word on HIV and TB
WITH research showing that knowledge of HIV among school learners was decreasing, the South African National Aids Council (Sanac) held a dialogue in an effort to educate youngsters.
Sanac’s high-level national dialogue was on sport and its impact, role and opportunity for HIV prevention, where many youth and motivational speakers came together to share knowledge and encourage one another.
The organisation said the event was an opportunity to increase education and empower young people to adopt healthy behaviours to prevent HIV in South Africa.
“Sanac recognises that HIV incidence in youth, especially young women, is stubbornly high at around 1 700 new infections per week. Research has found that knowledge of HIV among school learners is decreasing and we know that stigma and stereotypes persist among the youth. Now is the time to invest in what works.”
Sanac executive manager for resource mobilisation Dr Nevilene Slingers said: “Millions of sports fans take part or watch sport every week in South Africa. Sport stimulates passion and has the capacity to unite us. It is also a powerful force for change and information-sharing on issues such as HIV and tuberculosis.”
Slingers added that an increasing number of projects had been using the power of sport to promote inclusion, health and educational messaging to “accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals”.
“More than ever, sport can be a catalyst in our society to improve quality of life and human well-being and help us move closer to ending HIV and TB,” Slingers said.
The dialogue was attended by global development partners and sports stars, like former Orlando Pirates player Thandani Ntshumayelo, who raised awareness about substance abuse.
MEC for Health Nomafrench Mbombo delivered a keynote address, saying using sport as a way to drive dialogue and education around HIV was a unique way to reach adolescents.
“We have evidence to show sport works to increase knowledge, empower individuals, change attitudes, drive demand for health services, improve adherence, and build self-esteem and confidence among the youth.”
Other speakers at the dialogue also highlighted the importance of dealing with social and structural drivers of HIV and challenged all South Africans to address gender inequalities and rethink gender stereotypes that also contribute to the spread of HIV.