2015 World Malaria Day Testing Tournament in Akwa-Ibom
Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) Tournaments are community-based HIV and malaria testing events that use the power of football to increase awareness about HIV and malaria testing and treatment services as well as other basic health services. In addition to providing platforms to reach entire communities with public health messages, children who participate in the GRS program are empowered as community leaders with public health knowledge. At the same time, on site, trusted partners offer rapid HIV and malaria testing and immediate enrolment into care and treatment accordingly.
These services bridge the gap between HIV and malaria prevention and treatment and demonstrate the power of collective community action to improve health.
At YEDI’s first Testing Tournament, 357 people (adults and youth) tested for HIV and 250 people for malaria. An estimated 1,000 persons attended the event including various community organizations, NGOs and private sector representatives such as UNFPA, Lagos State Schools, Universal Board of Basic Education (SUBEB), The Nigerian Business Coalition against HIV/AIDS, Bollore Africa Logistics and others. Besides testing, the event highlighted the importance of testing to obtain a diagnosis and measures to be taken for those testing positive. Radio France International, The Guardian and Nigeria Communication Week covered the event as well, increasing the audience receiving messages about the importance of testing and where to test and obtain treatment.
Tournaments take place on community sports fields or at schools, and combine football, live entertainment, access to free health services, and a safe space to learn about HIV and malaria prevention and treatment. Key Event Components include:
GRS Activities: Fun, group activities that combat stigma and emphasize the importance of testing and supporting those with HIV
Football Activities: Youth play in organized soccer matches throughout the event
Group Pre-test Counselling: Youth participate in pre-test sessions conducted by certified VCT counsellors who have experience working with youth
HIV Testing: All participants at the event can take an HIV test performed by a certified counsellor or nurse if they choose to. GRS coaches positively encourage children to test, but respect and support their final decision. GRS coaches will also assist any child who wants to test but, because of his or her age, requires parental consent to do so.
HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) in Lagos for Skillz Girl Naija Participant
If anyone at the events tests positive, counsellors link them to services for treatment. Health professionals provide post-test counselling and make appointments for a treatment centre. Location information is collected to allow for defaulter tracking.
GRS treatment partners are chosen for the quality of their care, their experience in providing treatment and support to HIV-positive youth, and their capacity to follow up and treatment of new clients after each tournament.
All tournaments are open to the public. Pre-event publicity encourages the entire community to come together and support the youth empowerment initiatives. Football players from the local professional and/or national teams often volunteer and test alongside the community. Everyone who comes to the event is invited to test.
By leveraging the power of Nigeria’s favourite sport, tournaments are just some of the events that empower communities to tackle the stigma of HIV. They also overcome many of the barriers to testing by providing accessible and comprehensive services in a non-threatening environment.
Some of the tournaments organised so far are:
World AIDS Day
YEDI organizes events around World AIDS Day including parades involving youth and their communities to promote HIV testing and prevention techniques and to reduce stigmatization. Among other activities, the World AIDS Day events provide an opportunity for free HIV Counselling and Testing to participants and community members while also using innovative approaches to increase awareness about HIV/AIDS and reduce stigma and discrimination. It also serves as a teaching opportunity for our peer educators to educate members of the community about HIV/AIDS, and advocate against stigmatization and discrimination pertaining to HIV/AIDS.
2014 World Malaria Day Testing Booth
World Malaria Day
In commemoration of the annual World Malaria Day, YEDI (and sometimes in partnership with various private sector organisations who are committed to seeing an end to the fight against malaria) organises a community tournament commonly tagged “Kick Against Malaria Football Tournament.” The tourney is targeted at combating the scourge of Malaria using the power of football as a tool. The tournament usually takes place alongside other activities including free Malaria testing and treatment, free distribution of long lasting insecticidal treated nets (LLINs), family health forum, health talk on Malaria, music and refreshment, among other activities.
The tournament is a Grassroot Soccer initiative where the power of soccer is used as an effective teaching platform for mobilizing and empowering young Nigerians with relevant information about HIV/AIDS and Malaria prevention and treatment, as well as basic life-saving skills.
Other events organized by YEDI to increase awareness about HIV, malaria and community health include:
YEDI partnered with Nigerian artiste Vocal Slender to spread messages promoting HIV prevention and healthy behaviours and reducing HIV stigmatization.
Lagos AIDS Walk
YEDI participated in the AIDS walk to raise awareness around HIV and to reduce stigmatization of those living with HIV.