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South Africa, Namibia: Pupils Are Helped to Avoid AIDS, Plan for Future

June 20, 2008

Star Schools, a school-based HIV/AIDS prevention project founded in KwaZulu-Natal province, was the runner-up at the Global Business Coalition's annual business awards ceremony this month in New York.

Star Schools is operated by the Thanda Foundation, the social investment arm of the luxury game lodge Thanda. While reducing children's vulnerability to HIV is the project's main goal, it also attempts to inspire students to set personal goals for their future and to understand that the choices they make today will determine whether they reach these goals. Sixty-two schools in KwaZulu-Natal and Namibia use the program.

With the symbol of a five-pointed star, the program encourages teens to focus on five goals: to work diligently to achieve personal goals; to remain HIV-free; to understand that one can make one's own life-affirming decisions; to acknowledge that reaching goals takes commitment; and to believe "I can make it possible."

It is this approach that impressed the coalition, a group of more than 220 companies working to make HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria a global priority, said spokesperson David Stearns. "We definitely like the approach. It's holistic, it's not just about AIDS prevention, it's about how to make better choices in your whole life and to build self-esteem. As someone said, it's mental vaccination."

Star Schools has a three-year implementation period. After three years, schools take "ownership" of the project, though Thanda's Jobs, AIDS, Conservation Initiative (JAC) continues to provide support for another two years.

In addition to reducing HIV prevalence, the project has helped boost attendance and grades and reduce teenage pregnancy, said Magnus Karlberg, director of JAC.

Back to other news for June 2008

Adapted from:
Business Day (South Africa)
06.17.2008;Sue Blaine

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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