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.


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