Learning about HIV through games
All one hundred and sixty athletes competing at the FIBA Oceania U-19 Basketball Championships in La Trobe City had tons of fun learning about HIV through the use of modified games led by STOP HIV Peer Leader, Jamie Toro and STOP HIV Program Manager and Trainer, Margaret Eastgate.
Integrated into the championships, the education clinics focused on life skills; the transmission modes of STIs, including HIV and practical methods of prevention. These included the correct and consistent use of condoms, where most of the athletes and regional coaches were exposed for the first time to female and male condoms. The demonstrations and practical step-by-step use of the two types of condoms drew alot of interest from the participants.
According to the Championships Director, Judy Smith, "I had no idea that female condoms existed. I was so impressed with the STOP HIV session that I would also like to invite the team to provide the basics on HIV to the team of regional coaches also present here (at the sporting event)."
Questions from the U-19s ranged from whether mosquitoes could spread HIV to how many condoms could be worn at one time and the process of testing. It was very encouraging to hear questions regarding Voluntary Confidential Counseling and Testing (VCCT) from the participants.
The games reinforced what was learned in the theory sessions. The sport and life skills discussions were very empowering, as athletes recognized the links to making informed choices pertaining to their sexual health by possessing good communication skills, being a team player, supporting each other, being up to speed with emerging trends and the importance of being leaders within their communities and role models to other young people in promoting safe sexual practices.
The sessions proved to be a huge learning curve for the athletes and officials alike.