Sport
 Kenya
Project #1885

Using the power of soccer to fight HIV/AIDS

by Vijana Amani Pamoja (VAP)
Vetted

Not one, not two, not three but a whole menu of biomedical services flavored with football  is what the community members of Mukuru Kwa Reuben slum and the participating teams bumped themselves into during the 2 days Kick ‘N’ Test football tournament held at Mukuru community stadium, all courtesy of VAP and its estinguished partners. For the very first time in the history of Kick ‘N’ Test tournaments, Mukuru community were the first beneficiaries of the newly rich infused tournament packed with services ranging from: hiv testing, distribution of condoms, and introduction and referral of voluntary medical male circumcision, both surgical and non-surgical services through prepex and oral self-testing pilot project which was taken a notch higher with the surveys available through electronic data collection. A total of 32 teams comprised of both boys and girls had to showcase their football and health prowess on the heavily dusted field of Mukuru Kwa Reuben which was divided into 4 playing sections. At some point the referees would be forced to stop some matches briefly to allow the playing teams to dust off the gathered dust on the their uniforms in order to avoid confusion and reidentify their original team colours. Despite being in a social and amenity deprived area on the peripheral of Nairobi characterized by dense population with majority of the inhabitants being squatters, mukuru slum prides itself by being the hub of the finest emerging and promising youthful footballers whom majority of them play in the big football clubs of Kenya’s organized football Kenya federation’s premier league.

Scramble for off the field points

Being one of its kind to ever happen in the soil of Mukuru kwa Reuben, the tournament which is traditionally coiled with the aspects of winning on and off the field through HIV testing also attracted the presence of team fans and community members residing in mukuru kwa Reuben ready to participate in the health services provided by the event and get a taste of its flavor where teams were not only getting points for winning or drawing matches, but also for participating in the Skillz Kenya activities, and visiting VCT tents to know their HIV status. Both fans and community members donated their extra off the field points to their respective teams that would eventually add up to their on field points with some members and youth benefiting from the easily available condoms.

Condom Vendors and Make The Cut Interventions

As an additional incentive to promote health and create easy access of condoms to the residents and the youth of Mukuru Kwa Reuben, VAP condom vendors had a booming business of distributing condoms through make shift tents and hawking around the playing fields. The condoms were distributed to the youth and community members over 17 years of age and a total of over 3,600 condoms were distributed within a span of 2 hours rendering VAP to run out of condoms during day one of the tournament. The distribution exercise was led by VAP’s ‘Mr Condom’ who also gave out his mobile number to be reached out incase of condom need. “Thanks for bringing free condoms close to us, now i have enough to use when am in need.” Said 21 years old Vincent,a resident at Mukuru Kwa Reuben.Additionally, for the first time, Make The Cut intervention was conducted at the tournament with a number of men and adolescent boys getting voluntary medical male circumcision referrals for both surgical and non-surgical. The referred participants were taught about the importance of VMMC uptake informed about the reduction of risk of female-to-male HIV transmission by 60% .The participants were referred to attend EDARP clinics, VAP’s partnering health service providers for both HIV testing and VMMC services. “Am glad to have received information aboutVMMC and HIV reduction rate, and am looking forward to the non-surgical circumcision. “Said John a 20 year old players from Barcelona FC.

Oral Self-Testing Electronic Data Capture

Participants filling in the oral self-testing surveys through the electronic tablets. The anonymous surveys written in English, Swahili and sheng were entered into Redcap (Research Electronic Data Capture) a firewall encrypted secure database, and analyzed electronically by the electronic tablets. The anonymous data was explored to determine self-reported proportions of study measures of interest, and explored group differences by sociodemographic and behavioral variables of interest e.g assessing the proportion of individuals attending Kick N Test football tournament who tested for HIV. The specific aims of the study included: estimating the proportion of HIV positive individuals who would be interested in a group approach to improving treatment access and adherence. Assessing proportion of individuals who are aware of HIV self-testing, and assess perceptions about self-testing for HIV. Assessing the importance of specific barriers to HIV testing, and accessing HIV treatment. Estimating the proportion of those who know themselves to be HIV positive and those who have been on treatment in the past, or were currently on treatment. Through offline app on password-protected tablets,the electronic surveys were automatically saved to the tablets and uploaded into Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) database once a secure internet was obtained for the purposes of accurate data analyzation.The study was aimed at helping determine effective strategies to improve continued HIV testing in the Mukuru Kwa Reuben slum population and improve retention on ART for those testing positive. With the result of this study, VAP aims to integrate distribution of oral self-testing kits to its HIV program participants as an additional innovative way of scaling up HIV testing.

Tournament's Parting Shot

Know your HIV status, know more about HIV, Circumcise and condomize, and two symbols of hiv ribbon with balls at the Centre, performed by VAP coaches were the words and signs behind the football tournament taken to the Mukuru Kwa Reuben and played by the 32 teams of both boys and girls. With the mission accomplished at Mukuru, VAP is looking forward to integrating and strengthening Make The Cut interventions in its HIV programming as well as distribution of condoms and oral self- testing kits.

Through the donation of condoms from the National AIDS and STI Control Programme – NASCOP, VAP coaches are geared up to hit the streets of Nairobi under the ‘Safe Mtaani’ campaign drive to distribute condoms to various sprawling entertainment joints including local youth football clubs training centres.The drive which will be done before the completition of Skillz and condoms football league is meant to boost the league in making sure condoms are easily accessible to the targeted youth and community members. The whole exercise is aiming to promote the efficacy of condoms, its effectiveness against the most dangerous of sexually transmitted infections-HIV, the virus that causes AIDS and other unintended pregnancy as well as against gonorrhoe,chlamydia,and trichomoniasis.The exercise aims to distribute 10,000 condoms by the end of Skillz Kenya and condoms football league.

 

As the 2016 European championship football extravaganza is stealing the show by entertaining and attracting the eyes of almost every football fan in this world, the new Skillz Kenya HIV football league is also attracting and taking care of the health of young lads and the communities in various fields of Eastlands, Nairobi Kenya, thousands of miles away from France the host nation of Euro 2016. The spiced up league, consists of 20 teams of ages 16-20 years who are also taken through HIV/AIDS awareness drills with all fields supplied with boxes of free condoms for pick-ups and distribution as well as flyers with usage information. The gist of the Skillz football league is that winners will not only be determined by the points garnered but also completion of Skillz Kenya HIV interventions by players and distribution number of condoms under the ‘Tujikinge Mtaani’ (We Protect ourselves in the neighborhood) campaign drive by participating team coaches to various youth football clubs, groups and entertainment joints.VAP monitoring and evaluation team will develop a well-defined monitoring system that would track the details of the whole exercise of condom distribution. Skillz coaches would also back up the exercise before the league ends by spending one day distributing condoms to various targeted youth joints, groups including youth football teams who also feature in both lower and upper football leagues of the Kenya Football Federation while teaching them on the proper usage of condoms. The whole exercise is aiming to distribute over 10,000 condoms by the end of the Skillz Kenya football league all in alignment with the UNAIDS, Geneva February 2016 call for 20 billion condom distribution by 2020 and Skillz Kenya’s aim of changing the behaviors of Kenyan youth with the ultimate goal of a reduced HIV infection rate in Kenya.

One of the innovative ways that may help break down barriers to testing is the approval of HIV self-testing kits, recently approved by theWHO and in Kenya through the ministry of health. As an organization with a track record of arming itself in the fight against HIV by using the power and the popularity of the game of football ,VAP in partnership with Medical University of South Carolina has been in the forefront of utilizing the oral-self testing innovation by administering a series of pilot research on football and oral-self testing during Kick ‘N’Test VCT football tournaments targeting participants over 14 years and community members at large. This research study has received a funding boost from Medical University of South Carolina through the Centre for Global Health (CGH), which will go towards supporting various pilot studies and the Kick N Test VCT football tournaments to be conducted in different communities around Nairobi. This study aims to: 1) assess HIV testing behavior at the Kick N’ Test VCT community football tournaments: 2) assess perspectives of the tournament attendees on HIV testing, self-testing for HIV, and HIV risk behaviors: 3) assess the number of HIV positive individuals attending the football tournaments, and estimate the proportion who would be interested in a group approach to improving treatment access and adherence: 4) identify cultural and religious barriers to practicing safe sex behaviors. The results of this study are expected to inform future research into improving access to care for HIV positive individuals and the feasibility and acceptability of HIV self-testing among HIV negative individuals, and serve as evidence of the effectiveness of VAP program in improving HIV testing rates as well as identifying specific needs in the population.

With the dust of a historic qualification of Kenya’s national women football team to play in the Africa cup of nations for the first time later in the year 2016 not settled down, VAP stirred up the air by organizing a girls Kick N Test VCT tournament with an aim of making and maintaining the ‘historic trend’ by testing more girls and young women. Inspired by the stellar performance of their national women football team a total of thirty teams comprised of girls and young women came from all the walks and townships of Nairobi to put their best feet forward on the pitch and their best finger off the pitch for testing purposes. As part of VAP’s aim and responsibility to change the behaviors of Kenyan youth with an ultimate goal of a reduced HIV infection rate, the tournament was characterized with lots of activities despite football. Such activities included HIV testing for participating teams, fans, community members and the continuous pilot trials on football and oral self-testing in our communities targeting individuals over 14 years of age. For the first time in the history of Kick ‘N’ Test VCT football tournament, the event witnessed a huge turnout of teams that resulted into a high number of individuals getting to know their HIV status that forced the event to end up later in the evening and with the health service providers running out of testing equipments.

                Most Tested Team!

They may had not put up a fantastic footwork on the pitch that could have allowed them to win a trophy but Mathare Girls football club  were very much spirited in seeking solace by doing more of  finger work and mobilizing their football mates and their supporters to get tested and gain more points off the pitch. Their efforts were not in vain as their faces were painted with smiles as they walked out with a trophy of the most tested tea."Am glad to have known my HIV status." said 16 years old Caroline from Mathare Girls football club

 

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Organization Information

Vijana Amani Pamoja (VAP)

Location: Nairobi, Kenya - Kenya
Website: http:/​/​www.vijanaamanipamoja.org
Project Leader:
Nancy Waweru
Founder
Nairobi, Kenya
$29,930 raised of $60,000 goal
 
 
273 donations
$30,070 to go
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