Destigmatizing HIV, TB and Other Chronic Diseases Through Sports and Healthy Living

South Africa Partners

On April 18th, 2018, members of the South Africa Partners team took part in a TB awareness sports day at one of the eight partner prisons that we work with, the Baviaanspoort Correctional Centre, just east of Pretoria.

The message reinforced throughout the day, by the Peer Educators whom led the event, was that it's through sporting activities that diseases such as HIV and TB can be normalized. Viewing these diseases through a different lens makes the prison environment less discriminatory and promotes a reduction in stigma. The day-long program advocated for testing to become a normal activity, treatment be taken as prescribed, healthy living through nutrition and exercise and for sporting activities to be viewed an entry to positive living (testing, prevention and treatment).

South Africa has more than 158,000 offenders who are at great risk for HIV and related infections. While the socio-economic backgrounds of the incarcerated often mirror that of other high-risk groups, the correctional facility setting further exacerbates the risk of HIV and other chronic disease transmissions. To educate about the transmission of HIV, South Africa Partners' prevention strategies help offenders and staff members in correctional services facilities overcome stigma and choose to get tested to stop the spread of HIV and other infectious diseases.

This program aims to sensitize officials, offenders and other members of the correctional service facilities on issues related to men having sex with men, sexuality and sexual violence, gender norms, women having sex with women, and substance dependence. We also provide mentorship and technical assistance to ensure implementation of prevention programs. A key part of this program is if an offender or correctional service facilities staff member tests positive for a chronic disease, they are placed into a care and support program in line with the National Adherence Guidelines for Chronic Diseases. We have implemented these programs at 8 South African correctional facilities to ensure that 10,379 offenders, detainees and staff were screened for HIV and tuberculosis.