HIV/AIDS Awareness Through Football
According to a 2012 ANC Surveillance Survey, Maridi has experienced a gradual rise in HIV/AIDS prevalence with 4.1% compared to 2.4% in 2009. In South Sudan where the conflict has destabilized the social structures, HIV/AIDS cases are hardly ever reported or discussed in the community. Financial, material and social dependence on men means women cannot always control when, with whom, and in what circumstances they have sex with very few marriages being solemnized. Lack of information about HIV/AIDS, superstitions, a lower perception of the risk factors and different interpretations of safe sex contribute to the vulnerability. AAH identified sport as a key tool for mobilization and awareness generation among the youth in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The assumption is that sporting activities instill a sense of health awareness and bridge the gap between several religious and ethnic groups. It can also facilitate their access to the HIV/AIDS message.
In the month of March, AAH in partnership with Maridi FM organized a soccer tournament to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, particularly among the youth in Maridi. The game was played between the hospital staff of Maridi State Hospital and the staff for Maridi FM radio station. The game had the objective to exchange regular information and lessons learned in order to enhance the role of sports and youth in the fight against AIDS at community level. In a world where half of HIV positive people are women, such sports programmes helped disseminate information about STD/HIV/AIDS among the youth.
A HIV counseling and testing stall was setup on the ground. The major aim of the stall was to create awareness, determinate leaflets with information on prevention, counsel about prevention and control of HIV/AIDS and generate acceptance of the people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA). Over 184 youths (89 female & 95 male) were tested for HIV/Aids.
A signature campaign was also organized near the awareness stall. The caption of the campaign was “Getting to Zero”. The main aim of this campaign was to convey the message of STD/HIV/AIDS and shake hands to say “No to HIV/AIDS” and integrate the people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA) in the mainstream of the society. More than 300 people including college and school students had taken part in the campaign.