The HIV/AIDS pandemic is a global health crisis, with 40% of new HIV infections worldwide occurring among youth under the age of 24. In the Dominican Republic, HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age. Stigma and discrimination prevent youth from talking about HIV/AIDS, knowing their status, and seeking life-saving care and treatment. Although HIV/AIDS is 100% preventable, a lack of knowledge and access to health services enables the infection to keep spreading.
HIV prevalence is decreasing in the Dominican Republic thanks to education and awareness programs such as Deportes para la Vida (Sports for Life). As part of the international Grassroot Soccer network, Deportes para la Vida (DPV) focuses on changing the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of youth in order to minimize the spread of HIV/AIDS and encourage healthy decision-making. The program recognizes that children and youth learn best through interactive activities. The fun of sports and games is leveraged to teach students about HIV transmission and its effects on the body, while also teaching them how to avoid risky partners, manage risky situations, reduce stigma and discrimination, and eliminate gender-based violence. The program uses a peer-to-peer education model, where local youth trained as DPV coaches deliver the curriculum, serve as mentors, and develop their own leadership abilities.
Deportes para la Vida (DPV) was first developed in 2005 as a pilot project between Grassroot Soccer, the University of Vermont, and the community of Batey Libertad in the Dominican Republic. In 2010, program oversight was officially transferred to DREAM Project. Shortly after, the organization began collaborating with Peace Corps, whose access to PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) funding and motivated Peace Corps Volunteers led to rapid growth across the country. In addition to facilitating community courses, DREAM implements DPV as part of its Young Stars At-Risk Youth Program, Summer Schools and Camps, and A Ganar Youth Workforce Development program. The combined efforts of DREAM and Peace Corps has resulted in the certification of more than 200 DPV coaches since 2010, with more than 2,500 youth reached per year.
Youth are mobilized to minimize the spread of HIV, eliminate stigma and discrimination, make healthy life decisions, and become community leaders and role models.
- Youth change their knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding HIV/AIDS.
- Youth make healthy decisions in their daily lives.
- Youth become community leaders and role models.
DREAM is looking for a DPV Monitoring and Evaluation intern for 2014. View our DPV M&E internship description to learn more.