Being a Soul Buddyz Club member protects young women from HIV in long term

Young women who were members of Soul Buddyz clubs 10 years ago were nearly three times more likely to be HIV negative than a matched control group.

Genesis Analytics was engaged by the Soul City Institute for Social Justice in 2015 to conduct a long-term evaluation of the impact of being a Soul Buddyz Club member on their overall health. Genesis engaged Social Surveys Africa (SSA) as the fieldwork partner for this evaluation.

The findings were presented at the 8th National Aids Conference in Durban in June 2017.

At its height, Soul Buddyz Clubs had over 200,000 members across the country who received HIV prevention support in extra-curricular, primary school-based clubs. The Soul Buddyz Clubs – which were introduced to complement the TV drama, Soul Buddyz, in 2003 – engaged children between the ages of eight and 14 in activities and provided them with material to promote safer sexual behaviour.

Manager at the Health practice in Genesis, Sarah Magni, said that this study was ground-breaking, as it is one of the first of its kind to demonstrate the long-term impact of a school-based intervention and to demonstrate the impact on actual HIV status. 

Genesis manager Sarah Magni at the briefing on the study at the 8th SA AIDS conference in Durban

Genesis manager Sarah Magni at the briefing on the study at the 8th SA AIDS conference in Durban

Genesis was able to do this was because of the innovative research methods developed together with SSA. A feasibility study was first conducted to determine the likelihood of being able to locate previous members. These findings were used to develop an innovative retrospective cohort study design to meet the study objectives.

A multi-pronged recruitment process was used to find the ex-members. Methods included radio adverts, a Facebook group, Whatsapp and telephone calls to those identified using a snowballing technique. 

“We incentivised referrals of previous SBCs to improve snowballing. We established where the majority of the ex-SBC members attended primary school and identified appropriate community controls using random sampling. Participants were given transport money and thank you gifts, and we ran competitions at the fieldwork sites to improve the response rate,’ said Magni.

 “When Genesis compared the level of HIV infection among the Ex-Buddyz and the control group we found that Ex-Buddyz were three time more likely to be HIV negative. This is a highly significant finding.  

“We attribute this to the fact that ex-Buddyz were more likely to use condoms at first sex and less likely to have more than one sexual partner in the year preceding the survey – both elements of the Soul Buddyz ethos.”

Soul City’s CEO, Lebo Ramofoko, said:  “We are making a recommendation that says there is evidence now that this is a programme that works.”

Reports from the conference:

Sarah Magni talking about the impact of Soul Buddyz's Clubs

Project report: Positve impact of Soul Buddyz Clubs on young women