LoveLife National HIV Prevention Program for Youth
LoveLife is a comprehensive national-scale HIV prevention program focused specifically on the 12-17 age range. It was launched in late 1999 as a joint initiative of leading South African non-government organizations and the South African government in partnership with several private foundations and with substantial South African private sector support. LoveLife's comprehensive strategy was designed to address the specifics of the epidemic in South Africa within the country's specific resource, infrastructure and socio-cultural context.
- The program seeks to achieve sustained engagement with the first generation of young people growing up in post-apartheid South Africa (the so-called "born frees") who are exposed to greater benefits and opportunities than their parents but still face many of the socio-economic legacies of apartheid such as poverty, unemployment and a lack of social and economic advancement opportunities.
- A sustained multi-media education and awareness campaign -- including television, radio, outdoor media and print -- educating young people about HIV and promoting dialogue about sexual health issues.
- The National Adolescent-Friendly Clinic Initiative, a major drive to establish adolescent health services in South Africa's 5,000 public clinics.
- A national network of 16 multi-purpose youth facilities, known as "Y-Centres", providing recreation and skills training, as well as sexual health education and care in non-clinical settings.
- A countrywide programme of community-level outreach and support to young people (including 3,500 schools) led by a national volunteer corps of more than 1,500, 18-25 year olds known as loveLife groundBREAKERS.
- A nationally accessible toll-free telephone helpline for young people providing specialized sexual health information, counseling and referrals averaging 300,000 calls per month. The loveLife Games, the largest school sports competition in South Africa, promoting healthy living, self motivation and personal achievement to more than 400,000 school students annually.
- Nearly 85% of all South African youth have been exposed to loveLife
- More than two thirds of all youth have been exposed to at least three different loveLife products
- There is a strong correlation between exposure to loveLife and self-reported sexual behaviour including increased abstinence, choosing to delay initiating sexual activity and increased condom use
- Participation in loveLife programs is statistically associated with lower odds of HIV, taking into account other likely explanatory factors
- Since the start of the loveLife evaluation, funding constraints have resulted in many of the planned evaluation activities being no longer feasible, in particular the two large surveys.
- Programs for youth, including loveLife, must continue to promote partner reduction and consistent condom use while also addressing contextual factors, which undoubtedly contribute to risk but were not fully assessed here, that make it difficult for youth, particularly young women, to implement behavior change.