, Volume 17, Issue 6, pp 2045-2052
Date: 16 Mar 2013

HIV Prevention in Action on the Football Field: The Whizzkids United Program in South Africa

Abstract

The Africaid Trust is a grassroots South African non-profit organization that engages youth in HIV prevention by harnessing the popularity of football (i.e. soccer). WhizzKids United, the organization’s primary program, operates a 12-week program in elementary schools in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, which aims to impart knowledge and life skills critical to HIV prevention. The goal of this research was to compare elementary school youth who received the program to youth who only received traditional classroom-based HIV education on health behaviors and HIV-related knowledge and stigma. A secondary objective was to evaluate HIV knowledge, sexual behaviors, attitudes towards HIV and health care seeking behaviors among South African youth in grades 9–12. Elementary students who participated in the program reported greater HIV knowledge and lower HIV stigma (p < .001) than those who had not. The majority of youth in grades 9–12 report having sexual relations (55.6 %), despite low levels of HIV testing (29.9 %) in this high HIV prevalence region of South Africa. The results highlight the importance of supporting community-based HIV educational initiatives that engage high-risk youth in HIV prevention and the need for youth-friendly health services.