South Africa: Playing Soccer, and Talking HIV
June 15, 2010
In a country that has the world's highest number of HIV-positive residents, a nascent soccer league in South Africa's Mpumalanga Province is simultaneously honing athletic skills and fighting disease.
"It's a way to address something that nobody wants to talk about through a game that everybody loves," said Sarah Kate Noftsinger, executive director of the league's umbrella organization, Triad Nkomazi Rush.
An American youth soccer organization, Rush, provides uniforms to teams with perfect attendance, but players have to keep attending classes to keep them.
HIV testing is offered and encouraged. A goal of the program is to have everyone in the league tested every 90 days.
A local seven-member executive committee oversees the league's scheduling, finances, marketing, and medical education. The goal is a self-sustaining infrastructure in this area with 60 to 90 percent unemployment.
"Triad Nkomazi Rush is trying to make people see that a person with HIV is not the enemy," said Paul Makofane, deputy director of sports advancement in the province. "And they are transferring skills, so we won't have to rely on the mother programs from the United States. We can run our own," he said.
New York Times
06.11.2010; Jere Longman
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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