Last updated on March 2018

HIV & Drug Abuse Prevention for South African Men


Brief description of study

The purpose of this study is to test the efficacy of randomizing all young men in a neighborhood to receive: 1) soccer training; 2) soccer and vocational training; or 3) a control condition, as a means to engage young men in HIV prevention. The investigators hypothesize that the intervention will reduce young men's substance use and increase HIV testing.

Detailed Study Description

South Africa has the highest number of HIV-infected persons of any nation, including 2.4 million men, and from 2002-2011 young men have had a 3% incidence HIV rate that has remained stable. New infections occur later in men than in women, making men in their 20s a target for intervention. Decreasing sexual risk and concurrent partnerships is a key outcome in interventions to reduce HIV incidence. Most men (68%) report unprotected sex, typically with three partners in the last three months,and more than half of young men do not use condoms with casual partners.

In South Africa, the amount of alcohol consumed per adult is among the highest in the world. 'Heavy episodic drinking', which most strongly correlates with risky sexual behaviors and HIV infection, is reported by 60% of men. Alcohol, tik (methamphetamine) and marijuana are common among young men in South Africa. Among alcohol abusers, men are highly likely to be poly substance users. Among HIV seropositive young men, drug use is common. Drug and alcohol use is associated with risky sexual behaviors and an increase in the number of sexual partners.

In townships, alcohol is involved in or responsible for 60% of automobile accidents, 75% of homicides, 50% of non-natural deaths, 67% of domestic violence, 30% of hospital admissions, and costs South Africa about R9 billion annually. Violence also characterizes the lives of young men in the Xhosa townships. Intimate partner violence is frequent in alcohol-using partnerships and is correlated with increased HIV incidence. Substance use and unemployment often lead to violence in a township. Jobs, by contrast, provide income and create a strong and respected community role.

HIV prevention efforts for young people in Sub-Saharan Africa have largely been unsuccessful: novel, structural, community level programs that address the social determinants of HIV are needed. Unemployment and a culture of alcohol and violence are major social determinants of HIV among young men. Yet, men are often excluded from economic development programs. Young, South African men need new pathways for prosocial roles and behaviors and our interventions need to be attractive and consistent with men's styles. The social determinants of HIV (unemployment, alcohol, and violence) are critical to creating opportunities for prosocial roles for young men. One of the most common comments by both the men and their families in our previous pilot qualitative study on soccer and vocational training was men's lack of "things to do." Given these needs, the investigators focus on soccer and vocational training in this randomized controlled trial as opportunities for young men to acquire the habits of daily living that are most likely to result in jobs, health, and positive relationships.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT02358226

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Mark Tomlinson, PhD

Stellenbosch University
Stellenbosch, South Africa
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