Worldwide HIV and AIDS is still one of the diseases which is causing a lot of deaths among the youths and even adults.
Malawi is also one of the countries which have large number of people infected by the virus and people living with HIV and AIDS.
Despite the large number of people living with the virus some people do not know their HIV status but with the protect the Goal Campaign has help more youths to get tested.
It has been established that over 4000 youths from the country’s Southern region have gone for voluntary HIV Testing and Counseling through the Football Association of Malawi’s protect the Goal Campaign.
It has been reveal that out of 4651 people who got tested in Mwanza, Mulanje, Thyolo, Blantyre, Nsanje, Zomba and Mangochi, 4146 are the youths.
The Protect the Goal Campaign which aims at driving revolution in HIV prevention provides direct services of HIV Testing and Counseling (HTC) through a mobile van supported by FAM partner Malawi AIDS Counseling and Resource Organization (MACRO).
According to the Project Coordinator John Nyirenda, the number of youths who got tested in the region which has a high HIV prevalence rate of 14.5 percent demonstrates that they (young people) need to be empowered for them to contribute positively towards national HIV response.
“The project is targeting districts with high HIV prevalence in order to support young people in using sports as platform of disseminating HIV prevention messages and encouraging one another to go and get tested and know their HIV status in district and nearby health facilities. Therefore, the figures from the south are very positive as regards the willingness of the youths to get tested,” said Nyirenda.
He said youths in the country are experiencing numerous challenges that need to be addressed if HIV and AIDS battle is to be won.
Nyirenda said: “The districts which we have been traveling to do not have recreation centers, sports materials and solid youth networks to keep them busy and focused. There are high levels of school drop outs, unemployment, and smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, teenage pregnancies.
“Most of the youths are not aware of their HIV status that fuels HIV and AIDS despite being the larger part of the country’s population. Therefore, it is the wish of FAM to compliment government efforts in protecting youths from HIV different sporting initiatives.
“It is shocking to note that half of new HIV infections are among the youth, 15 to 24 years of age. Our aim is to have young people, male and female, seriously commit to HIV Prevention through comprehensive HIV and AIDS education, awareness and mobilization and referral to HIV and AIDS Services using football which is the number one sport in world.
“We need to intensify HIV testing and counseling to provide an opportunity for first time testers in order to contribute Malawi goal of ensuring 90% of people who are living with HIV know their HIV status by 2030.”
The project is spearheaded by the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, National AIDS Commission, UNAIDS, UNICEF and the Football Association of Malawi and use government structures through the district councils with support from District AIDS Coordinators, District Sports and youth Officers, HTC coordinators in using sports and music as platforms in reaching out to young people.
Protect the Goal Campaign is also using Lukia Sanudi, Chancy Vinny Gondwe, Ruth Nyirongo and musician Skeffa Chimoto to mould and mentor young people to make good and healthy decisions for now and the future in line with HIV prevention -MANA