Medium and message: Whizzkids

Whizzkids United is using football to raise awareness about Aids and HIV among young people in South Africa.

Although traditional HIV and Aids prevention schemes continue to struggle in Africa, Whizzkids United - the first ever football-themed HIV prevention programme - is achieving remarkable results. Marcus McGilvray, a British HIV nurse and founder of the programme, based in Durban, South Africa, believes that part of the reason for the high infection rate among 15 to 25-year-olds in South Africa is the ineffectiveness of traditional sex education methods.

"We used to do an hour of HIV prevention in the classroom and then get some football training in," says McGilvray. "Then it occurred to me that we should start out on the football pitch, and it really became a natural process from there."

Whizzkids United now runs week-long HIV-prevention programmes for 12 to 15-year-old schoolchildren in South Africa's Natal region. HIV is portrayed as an obstacle to achieving their dreams that needs to be tackled much like an opponent on the football pitch. The children are also taught about the importance of rules in football and shown that they need to be observed if they are to succeed in life, too.

So far, the concept seems to be working. More than a thousand 12 to 15-year-olds have completed the Whizzkids United programme. McGilvray says: "Prevention remains the best way to halt the spread of HIV, but we have to change how the younger generation think."

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