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International News

Minister: South Africa Must Use Sport for Social Issues

June 22, 2010

The World Cup's most important legacy to South Africa will not be new roads or sporting facilities, but heightened importance attached to confronting scourges such as HIV and TB, the county's health minister said.

"It's up to us in South Africa. This momentum must not be lost," said Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi. "People want this issue of testing and knowing about your health to be something that must happen in everyday life, and this has helped us to remove the stigma."

Health officials have located mobile HIV testing stations at World Cup events. Thousands of children have been given soccer balls emblazoned with advice on how to recognize and prevent TB.

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"Since the beginning of the World Cup fever around the country, it's been very easy to use sports for other social issues, health-related issues," Motsoaledi said. "We gave the soccer balls to the kids and they loved it."

An HIV test at one of the mobile tents takes 15 to 20 minutes. "People associate clinics with unwellness and sickness, but at a [soccer] match, it's so normal. It's just one of the activities," said Mammuso Makhanya, who helps organize the tents. "There are more people willing to test than we were able to test," she said.

Because about 10 percent of the tests are positive, the nurses are emotionally able to handle no more than 15 tests per shift, Makhanya said.

Athletic gear manufacturer Nike has built a training complex in Soweto that will be maintained after the World Cup by the South African Football Association and the city of Johannesburg. Organizers promise instruction in both sport and life lessons.

"This brings youngsters from the townships away from alcohol, away from drugs," Motsoaledi said. "They might learn to be soccer stars but they also learn life skills and hopefully they become a free generation."

Back to other news for June 2010

Adapted from:
Associated Press
06.11.2010; Stuart Condie


  
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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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