My key takeaways from AIDS 2018: We need to better reach youth and men

Bheki Moyo, Managing Director of Grassroots Soccer Zimbabwe, shares his personal connection to some of the key messages at AIDS 2018 and the top three things he will take home with him after the conference.
Bheki Moyo, Managing Director of Grassroot Soccer Zimbabwe

Bheki presenting a poster at AIDS 2018This year’s International AIDS Conference was rich with research findings and innovative social strategies to tackle the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Listening to speakers and engaging in discussion at AIDS 2018 reminded me of my own childhood growing up in the poverty-stricken streets of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. I realize now how lack of comprehensive sexual education affected my own decisions, created missed opportunities, and impacted my community.

Three key takeaways from my experience at AIDS 2018:

Reach men and boys to take up health services and take charge of their health and lives. Although we have made progress in reaching and empowering girls, our efforts will go in vain if we do not equally reach boys. The launch of MENSTAR, announced by Sir Elton John, is going to be a game changer.

Offer integrated comprehensive sexual reproductive health and rights services with HIV for adolescents and young people. Youth require HIV services as well as additional health services that will enable them to make informed decisions about their lives and plan for the future.

Adopt human-centered design that will resonate with communities, especially adolescents. This was the cherry on the ice cream for me, and was summed up by the empowering phrase for youth: “Nothing about us, without us.”

As programmers, we have been left with a challenge to go back to our communities and help build the change we want to see. I am super excited to be going back and implementing all that I have learned in my own country of Zimbabwe.

Bheki presenting at AIDS 2018
Bheki joined Grassroot Soccer in 2012 as a bookkeeper and held increasingly larger responsibilities before taking on his current position overseeing strategy, operations, programming, and business development. Originally trained as an articled clerk with a local Chartered Accounting firm, Bheki worked in various companies in the private sector including a beverage manufacturing, textile manufacturing and retail from 2005-2011. He received his MBA in 2013 and is currently doing a Masters in Public Health Program with the University of Roehampton in London, UK as well as registered for a PHD program with the University of KZN in South Africa.

Find out more about Grassroot Soccer Zimbabwe here.