As the largest conference on any global health issue in the world, with over 15,000 global leaders, policy makers, researchers, and advocates, the International AIDS Conference is a unique forum that intersects science, advocacy, and human rights. At the 2018 Conference in Amsterdam, Grassroot Soccer presented research on the impact of our work and approach, convened thought leaders and youth to drive the conversation around adolescent-centered design, demonstrated our programming, brought the perspective of young game changers in adolescent health, and collaborated with partners to engage around key issues. Below are some highlights from the week.
GRS PRE-CONFERENCE EVENT: CHANGING THE GAME IN ADOLESCENT-CENTERED DESIGN: ASSETS, ACCESS, ADHERENCE
At the Conference, researchers and public health experts released recent data indicating that in sub-Saharan Africa nearly 5 million more young people in the region could have HIV by 2050 if trends continue. However, data from multiple countries shows the impact of enhanced prevention and treatment efforts.
In this context, Grassroot Soccer hosted a one-day workshop, joining with partner organizations and the adolescents we serve to share approaches to putting youth at the center of HIV and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) interventions. Together we shared innovations and failures in using adolescent-centered design principles in HIV and SRHR. Key to the day was the Youth Game Changers Panel, where young voices from GRS, PEPFAR’s DREAMS Ambassadors program, Women Deliver, Girl Effect, and Avert shared their perspectives in each panel discussion, creating a cross-generational and multi-sector dialogue.
The event featured a diverse set of expert presenters, including Linda-Gail Bekker, President of the International AIDS Society, Lauren Marks, Director of Private Sector Engagement for PEPFAR, Jocelyn Wyatt, CEO of IDEO.org, Robin Gorna, Co-Lead of SheDecides, and our own Global Board Member Dr. Brian Brink, an expert and leader in HIV/AIDS, among many others.
The varying insights and perspectives from the day highlighted the 3A’s framework: Assets, Access, and Adherence. A sampling of some of the key themes that came out of the discussions were:
- Adolescence is a journey, and it is therefore important to understand the biological basis for risk-taking and create an environment that takes this into consideration
- The importance of innovate ways to reach men and young boys to access health care services, including investing in self-testing approaches
- The global health community must put resources behind gender transformative approaches
- The importance of implementing differentiated models of care – one size does not fit all
- Adolescents as partners, not just beneficiaries
DEMAND CREATION INNOVATION CHALLENGE AWARD
The pre-conference weekend kicked off with the presentation of the Demand Creation Innovation awards, presented by the OPTIONS Consortium at their Insights to Impact pre-conference event. At the event, GRS was presented with the award for “Best Demonstrated Impact” for our Make the Cut voluntary medical male circumcision intervention. Read more here.
PRESENTING RESEARCH & INSIGHTS
Throughout the conference there were a total of 5 poster presentations featuring Grassroot Soccer’s work across a range of geographies and programs.
These presentations included:
- A mixed-methods evaluation of an HIV preventions and sexual and reproductive health education program delivered to adolescent boys in South Africa through a partnership with local football associations
- An outcome evaluation of GRS Zimbabwe SKILLZ programs from 2011-2017
- Two evaluations of lessons learned from implementing sport-based HIV, life skills, and malaria programs for young people with intellectual disabilities in Nigeria, Namibia, and South Africa
- GAIA, a GRS Partner in Malawi, presented on using the power of football to educate young people about and test them for HIV in rural Malawi
During the conference GRS launched our 2017-2018 Research & Insights Report, which shares our key recent learnings and impacts.
In addition to our pre-conference event, our young leader Taonga Tembo Kennedy, Training Fellow and Master Coach, participated in several events that amplified the youth perspective. On Monday she gathered with young leaders for the Let Youth Lead session, hosted by Sentebale, which included a discussion with HRH Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex. Tuesday she participated in a youth roundtable led by #GenEndIt, a coalition of like-minded organizations, including GRS, that are mobilizing youth to be the generation to end AIDS. On Thursday, she told her own personal story of being affected by HIV at a #GenEndIt “youth in action” discussion hosted by Ndaba Mandela at the MenStar booth in the Global Village, and attended a co-creation workshop hosted by Avert.
In addition to Tembo, two current and one former GRS Coaches from Zambia were granted scholarships to attend the conference, and spent the week learning ideas and information that they will take back into their work with young people.
On Wednesday, GRS was featured in the Global Village at the MenStar booth, where delegates engaged in live demonstrations of our SKILLZ Health activities. MenStar is a $1.2 billion global partnership, launched at the conference, focused on expanding the diagnoses and treatment of HIV infections in men, particularly among young men in sub-Saharan Africa. Alongside the participatory demos, GRS led a session explaining our work targeting adolescent boys and young men.
MEDIA COVERAGE OF GRS AND SHARED PERSPECTIVES FROM AIDS 2018
Overall, AIDS 2018 was an incredible week of learning, engaging, and sharing with health experts, implementers, policy-makers, advocates, youth leaders, and partners from around the world!