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HIV prevention through sport: the case of the Mathare Youth Sport Association in Kenya

Book Contribution - Book Abstract Conference Contribution

Background & Objectives In Kenya, some progress was registered with declines in new HIV infections and prevalence rates – the latest figures show an estimated adult (15-49 year) infection rate between 7.1% and 8.5% (UNAIDS, 2008) – but the epidemic remains a threat to the development of Kenyan society, especially after outbursts of violence following the elections of December 2008. Some of the preventive efforts have been done at grassroots level by the Mathare Youth Sport Association (MYSA). MYSA’s strategy to prevent HIV/AIDS integrates sport and life skills through peer education, peer counseling, games, music, drama, puppetry and other cultural and recreational activities. The objective of the study is to assess the impact of the MYSA HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness programme on sexual behavior of youth and determinants thereof. Methods The impact of the MYSA HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness programme was evaluated using a cross-sectional study design comparing an intervention and control group. Data was collected using self-administered questionnaires. The questionnaire included sections yielding information about the demographic profile of the respondents, their knowledge about HIV/AIDS, attitudes and perceptions towards HIV/AIDS, VCT experience, sexual intentions; social contacts and perceptions of body and health. Participants were eligible if they were between 12 and 24 years old. For the intervention group, people from all the MYSA zones were asked to participate. Respondents in the control group were searched in schools, youth clubs, orphan homes, and social organisations in the MYSA zones. Data collection was done from July to October 2007. A total of 861 questionnaires were administered: 441 in the intervention group and 420 in the control group. Analysis was done in SPSS 17. Results The average age of respondents was 16 year for the intervention and 16.5 years for the control group. The majority of respondents were males (64.7%). The intervention group contained significantly more men. The intervention group also contained more respondents of the Kikuyu ethnic group, while the Luo ethnic group was more prevalent in the control group. No group differences were found concerning living situation and religion. Although not significant, intervention youth had a slightly higher score on the knowledge scale. No difference was observed concerning attitudes toward condom use, nor for risky sexual behavior (‘ever had sex’, ‘condom use at last sex’, ‘number of partners in last year’ and ‘age of sexual debut’). Close to 25% of all respondents had more than three partners in the last year, and the same amount admits to having had concurrent relationships. The analysis shows association between membership of MYSA and a higher ability to deal with taboos and stereotypes about sex and HIV/AIDS; the increased likelihood of debates on issues as sex; more favourable social norms concerning condom-use, more favourable intentions towards condom-use. Discussion The findings provide no proof for success of MYSA in significantly changing risky behaviour with regard to HIV. However, using sport as a means to create an environment in which prevention messages can be easily transferred contributes indirectly to this purpose, through increasing communication about sex, changing social norms and intentions.
Book: Abstracts AIDS Impact 9
Number of pages: 1
Publication year:2009