The commemoration of world’s AIDS day wouldn’t be complete at VAP without the Kick “N” Test VCT football tournament. Twenty eight football teams of mixed gender from different regions of Nairobi had their roads leading to Eastlands Nairobi, the hotbed of Kenyan’s finest grassroot football with a track record of producing majority of Kenya’s great football stars and coaches who have ascended to the echelons of Kenya’s football including playing in the national team. The participants came from far and wide in buses and matatus (Nairobi’s common means of public transportation) with highly pumped up music and their guns blazing, with every team eyeing for the tournament’s trophy by winning the game on the field, and winning the game off the field through HIV testing. The pomp and colour Kick N Test VCT football tournament that was played on a knock-out basis attracted the presence of two health service providers: Eastern Deanery Aids Relief Program (EDARP) and Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF) who pitched up VCT tents ready with syringes and other testing paraphernalia. The traveling team fans, team coaches and members of the community had their share of the game by visiting the tents for HIV testing and donating their off the field extra points to their respective teams.
The tournament also provided an opportunity for some participants to cap off the event by officially being confirmed as HIV ambassadors in their respective communities after successfully completing SKILLZ Kenya program, an HIV awareness program that’s conducted in schools and communities.The Program targets both boys and girls and creates a simple, but powerful connections between football and life, and helps young people take small steps to achieve their goals, stay strong when faced with challenges, and protect themselves and others from HIV and AIDS. All these is done through a series of interactive games, activities, and discussions where participants gain a tangible understanding of core messages related to HIV/AIDS, and get a chance to practice the skills necessary to sustainable behaviour change and make informed healthy choices for themselves.
HIV Oral-Self Testing Research Study
With the partnership of Medical School of South Carolina and VAP’s monitoring and evaluation team, the event was taken a notch higher with some breaking new grounds of a pilot research study aimed to: assess perpectives of the tournament attendees on HIV testing, self-testing for HIV, barriers to receiving care for HIV, and risk behaviors, estimate proportion of HIV positive subjects who would be interested in a group approach to improving treatment access and adherence, assess proportion of adult subjects who are aware of HIV self-testing, and assess perceptions about self-testing for HIV, identify cultural and religious barriers to practicing safe sex behaviors among adult subjects in the population, assess the proportion of adult subjects attending a community football tournament who tested for HIV at the tournament, estimate the proportion of those subjects who know that they are HIV positive and of those subjects who know that they are HIV positive, estimate the proportion who have been on treatment in the past and proportion currently on treatment. The results of this study is expected to inform future research into improving access to care for HIV positive 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.
The Most Tested Team
Despite losing on the field, joy could still prevail on the faces of Kayole football team who emerged winners of the ‘Most Tested ‘team. The team bagged the ‘most tested team’ trophy after rallying its team players, coach and fans who jammed VCT tents to know their HIV status and accumulating the bonus points garnered through off the field. Kayole FC which is based in Kayole slum a community with an estimated population of over 298,000 people has a large population of youth who face a myriad of challenges including: lack of jobs, prostitution, teenage pregnancies, involvement in criminal activities, and HIV infections. The team has also been participating in Skillz Kenya program and have gained community role model status in matters concerning HIV.
18 years old, Filisia who trades her football with Makadara combined football club scores off the field to secure the last minutes crucial bonus points for her team. Filisia who plays in the midfield doubles up as the team captain for her team and has been a Skillz Kenya participant in her school at Kariobangi secondary school.”As a graduate of Skillz Kenya and a captain of my team, I have to lead from the front in the fight against HIV. Am hoping to join VAP as a skillz coach so that I can teach about HIV.” Said Filisia.
Hardly can we believe that we are on the tail end of the year 2015 and that the year 2016 is now beckoning. Looking at our archive, a lot has been accomplished and a lot of lives have been transformed. This wouldn’t be possible without the combined and the unwavering support of great people: staff, coaches, volunteers, friends, community members and participants even though we acknowledge that there’s work load still awaiting us in 2016. Additionally, we would also like to express our utmost thanks to our esteemed partners, donors, supporters and other like-minded organizations for their key role towards VAP’s movement. As we are on the counting down to the holiday seasons, we would like to wish everyone a happy festive season and a prosperous 2016…