‘Health Goals Malawi’ is a three-year project using football as a convenor to engage adolescent and young males aged 14-24 with health services, particularly HIV self-testing. The project aims to reduce the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases in Malawi, by raising awareness of support services and educating young people about the risks. The project works in partnership with Liverpool Football Club Foundation (LFC), the Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust (MLW) and Population Services International (PSI) to support local community leaders and coached to engage with local youth, who are predominantly hard to reach, and the least likely to access health education and services such as self-testing and treatment plans.
The project uses the diverse skillset of the implementing partners to strengthen the capacity of community coaches to:
- Deliver inclusive, well organised, and effective football sessions to youth
- Use these sessions to promote discussion about HIV, HIV self-testing, and other issues relevant to youth
- Sustain football as a platform where partners such as MLW and PSI can periodically engage with youth, to provide health services or information about local research
In Malawi, the number of people living with HIV is one of the highest in the world. Addressing the sexual and reproductive health needs of this population is critical as young people engage in sex, often transactional sex, at an early age. Young people account for 50% of new HIV infections in Malawi and incidences are higher among 15-17-year olds; their knowledge around prevention and transmission of disease is minimal, particularly amongst those living in rural areas, increasing the likelihood to contract or unknowingly live with HIV. Condom use is low among sexually active adolescents because young people often have difficulties accessing contraceptive health services, meaning that their risk of contracting HIV and STDs is higher. Currently young males are least likely to access HIV and reproductive healthcare services due to lack of accessibility and also a lack of youth-friendly services.