Spearheading public, private, and nongovernmental organisation sector programmes to confront the HIV/AIDS pandemic

SAFPUHIV/AIDS Policy and Organizational Support for the South African Football Players Union

Country: South Africa
Contract Period: November 2006 – November 2010
Client: Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and SAFPU

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With an estimated 4.7 million people living with HIV and AIDS, South Africa is one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic. Youths between the age of 15 and 24 are the demographic group with the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in South Africa. Many people, particularly young people, regard celebrities as role models. Numerous studies have shown that public figures, such as professional football players, are in a unique position to help destigmatize HIV/AIDS and bring about sustainable behaviour change. Young fans model behaviour after their idols and are most open to listen to positive, educational messages coming from them.

ECIAfrica is harnessing the tremendous potential of training and enlisting football players in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The approach is to educate professional football players on how to deal with HIV-related issues at a personal level, so they may then serve as a positive influence in society. With South Africa playing host to the Soccer World Cup in 2010, there is a unique opportunity to scale up this project. Football is the most popular sport in South Africa. Media coverage of the 2010 World Cup is projected to reach 28.7 million television viewers, 31 million radio listeners, and 1.6 billion through print locally and globally.

Through this project with the South African Football Players' Union (SAFPU), ECIAfrica is building the capacity of the organisation and providing workplace HIV/AIDS awareness and behaviour change training for professional football players and coaches. ECIAfrica has developed a comprehensive HIV/AIDS policy and strategy, which SAFPU has adopted and published. We have also completed a detailed survey of professional football players' and club owners' attitudes and understanding of the pandemic. Based on data collected we have developed a train-a-trainer manual, which covers topics on prevention, gender-based violence, assertiveness, dealing with peer pressure, goal setting, communication, decision-making, rights, testing for HIV, and treatment and care. Going forward, we will implement a behaviour change programme to reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS on the professional football sector in particular.