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South Africa: After the final whistle...

09 Jul 2010

The 2010 FIFA World Cup comes to an end this week, with either Spain or Holland lifting the coveted trophy for the first time in their footballing history.

Global celebration

The first World Cup to have been held in Africa, the 2010 tournament has meant so much to its host nation, South Africa. As the focus of the world's media, South Africans have brought people from around the world together for the biggest sporting celebration on the planet. And it hasn't disappointed.

A few of my highlights:

Vuvuzelas (the most annoying noise ever?), outrageous managerial attire (Maradona's mullet and Joachim Loewe's lucky jumper, right), even more outrageous refereeing decisions (don't worry Lampard, everyone knows it was goal), a seemingly unstoppable German team (until Paul the psychic octupus decided otherwise) and tens of tens of sublime performances and goals (Wayne Rooney, you are excused from this category).

But what happens after the last vuvuzela has been blown, the last goal scored and the remaining fans fly home?

After the final whistle...

South Africans still face the same problems. 5.7 million people will still be living with HIV. After the World Cup, HelpAge will continue to tackle HIV and AIDS in South Africa with our partner, the Muthande Society for the Aged (MUSA).

The older people we work with are often left out of HIV prevention campaigns and services and therefore remain uneducated about HIV and AIDS-related issues. This lack of knowledge not only increases their own risk of becoming infected, but also stops them from educating the children in their care.

Trained to prevent and care

We train traditional health practitioners in HIV prevention and care so they are better equipped to advise the many older people who consult them.

They learn about the transmission and prevention of HIV and are taught how to practice safely, by washing their hands, wearing rubber gloves, sterilising equipment and disposing of objects used to pierce the skin.

They are also trained to spot possible symptoms of HIV and made aware of the need for older patients to know their own HIV status.

Gogo Mchunu, right, a traditional health practitioner of over 30 years, said:

"MUSA has taught me to wash my hands before every new consultation, put on the gloves they provide and use one razor per person. I learnt how to protect myself and my clients from HIV infections, and I pass this information on to my patients."

To find out more about our work in South Africa, watch our short film here:

Read more about HelpAge's work on HIV and AIDS

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Sarah Marzouk
Country: UK
Job title: Digital Communications

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These blogs are personal reflections and do not necessarily reflect the views of HelpAge International.