LoveLife Uses Basketball to Coach HIV Prevention Among South African Teens
Former Maryland attorney and college basketball player Michael Scholl has brought basketball to South African youth centers to send an HIV-prevention message to thousands of teens, Newsweek reports. Scholl serves as national manager for seven youth centers run by loveLife, a South African youth-based, anti-AIDS campaign funded by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Scholl told Newsweek, "We are running a league that has around 1,800 players and is designed to empower young people with confidence and self-esteem through basketball. ... We use it as a vehicle to transport their young minds to the proper place -- becoming aware of HIV/AIDS and other issues." He explained that loveLife works to discourage early and risky sexual behaviors among teens, but "doesn't preach abstention because it is unrealistic. Rather, we want young people to talk about sex and HIV/AIDS, to be aware of dangers involved and to be empowered to act responsibly." Scholl noted that the kids he coaches "respond wonderfully to sexual issues, even though it is difficult in their culture to break down barriers to talking about sex, HIV/AIDS and other difficult subjects." Although many of the kids in the program may not yet be affected by the disease, he said, "[I]n the long run we will all suffer. We all are obliged to deal with the problem" (MacGregor, Newsweek, 8/1). The full interview transcript is available online.This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.