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Sports used to fight HIV epidemic in Bulwer

If you would like to get the youth to learn more about the dangers of HIV, alcohol and drug abuse and gender-based violence, you rather be creative in doing so.

Football, Volleyball and Netball were some of the sports that were used as platforms to educate the youth in the community of Bulwer in the Kwazulu-Natal province during the women's day commemoration.

Organised by local HIV prevention non-governmental organisation, the Turn Table Trust in partnership with the local Police Service (SAPS) and the Bulwer Youth Desk, the two-day sport extravaganza sought to educate the youth about the behaviours that place them at a risk of HIV infection - drawing the HIV prevention messages from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded Scrutinize campaign and Brothers for Life.

The event brought together at least 1000 youths between the ages of 12 - 35 who braved the cold weather and turned-up to participate in different sports tournaments while learning new things about HIV prevention, teenage pregnancy, medical male circumcision, alcohol and drug abuse

Bulwer Police Station Commander, Colonel Kheswa said that these kinds of initiatives are helpful in shaping the youth of today by investing in their future.

"We are committed to work with communities to fight alcohol and drug abuse. For any intervention that the community feels we could be of assistance, feel free to contact us. We are grateful that the community sees us an important partner in educating our young people about alcohol and drug abuse. Our service is not only about an emergency one where we are called in when there are problems" he says.

Turn Table Trust programme manager Neville Meyer who was the chief organiser of the event feels that there is a dire need to create awareness around issues of HIV, alcohol abuse amongst youth in Bulwer.

"Our youths are future leaders and thought it would be good to bring them together and participate in sports while learning about issues of HIV, gender-based violence and medical male circumcision and we seem to have just done exactly that. Of course, we salute the Bulwer police stations for joining hands with us in trying to address issues such as alcohol and drug abuse"

"The use of sports have proved to be an effective method in getting more youth in and out of school to come foward and learn about health and lifestyle issues", he added.

The Turn Table Trust is funded through the USAID/JHU HIV Communication Programme being implemented by Johns Hopkins Health and Education in South Africa.