HIV/AIDS Awareness Through Football
A UN Aids Report indicates that there were at least 200,000 adults and children living with AIDS in South Sudan in 2016.
As conflict has destabilized social structures in the country, HIV/AIDS cases are hardly ever reported or discussed in the community. This coupled with few systems and services to provide HIV support, low information about HIV/AIDS, cultural superstitions about the disease, a relatively low perception of the risk factors and different interpretations of safe sex contribute to the challenges of containing the endemic in Maridi County.
To support national and local governments’ efforts in HIV/AIDS management, the South Sudan Country programme of Action Africa Help International (AAH-I) is using sport as a key tool for mobilization and to create awareness among youth in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The idea is that sporting activities have the potential to instill a sense of health awareness and facilitate their access to the HIV/AIDS message.
In March 2018, AAH South Sudan in partnership with local radio station Maridi FM organized a soccer tournament to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, particularly among the youth in the County. The match was played between hospital staff of Maridi State Hospital and staff for Maridi FM radio station. The soccer match aimed to create a platform for information exchange and lessons learned in order to enhance the role of sports in the fight against AIDS at community level.
AAH-I and Maridi FM staff were on hand distribute leaflets with information on prevention and management of HIV/AIDS, and offer counseling and testing services at a booth that was set up during the match. Over 184 youths (89 female and 95 male) were tested for HIV/AIDS. People visiting the booth also received information about strategies for accepting of the people living with HIV/AIDS within the community.
At the end of the match the Getting to Zero campaign was kicked off to ensure that conversation continues. To date more than 300 people including college and school students had taken part in the campaign.