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Safe Blood for Africa Foundation's African Club 25 Greatly Reducing HIV Infections in African Youth

WASHINGTON, Sept. 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The African Club 25 Society, a Safe Blood for Africa Foundation subsidiary, is proud to announce it has dramatically reduced the incidence of HIV infections among its members. This organization of 62,000 members in 15 sub-Saharan African countries is made up of young people between 15-24 years old. These clubs are established, whenever possible, in collaboration with existing youth programs sponsored by schools, faith-based organizations and other groups. When no such program exists, African Club 25, in cooperation with the country's Ministry of Health and local officials, launches its own program aimed at reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS in this age group and increasing the safe blood supply.

African Club 25 organizations are groups which a young person may join and pledge to live a healthy lifestyle to avoid contracting HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases. These young people learn life and job skills, receive counseling and prevention information and provide voluntary, non-remunerated blood donations. These skills and counseling, as well as the importance of belonging to a group with a focus on staying healthy, all contribute to the rate of African Club 25 member infections being lower than two percent. Their non-Club 25 counterparts' infection rates are often higher than 10%. In many countries, the HIV infection rates of Club 25 members is 500% lower than that of their non-Club 25 counterparts.

The African Club 25 Society, sponsored by the Safe Blood for Africa Foundation, has pledged to expand membership throughout Africa to one million young people.

Jeffrey Busch, founder and Chairman of Safe Blood for Africa Foundation, said, "With one million African Club 25 members we can reduce the incidence of HIV infections among youth and ensure a safe blood supply for Africa's current and future population."

Diane de Coning, Director of the African Club 25 program, said, "The outpouring of interest in this program is truly exciting. Wherever we have an opportunity to launch the program, we are approached by other communities and officials asking how they, too, might become part of the program. This Club helps keep Africa's young people from contracting HIV, and also is an opportunity for them to learn skills which can help them as they become adults. It is truly a program which is focused on building the youth of Africa's capacity in many areas. Our youth are, after all, our future." Our message to the youth is "Think big, start small but act NOW" and this has become the slogan for the club.

Kelly Dambuza, Secretary of the African Club 25 Society, said, "When I started working with Safe Blood for Africa's Club 25, I didn't fully understand what a large impact it could have, and is now having. Growing up in Botswana, which has a very high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, I saw firsthand how the young people despair for the future. It was amazing to see what a difference it made to give them hope and a group which cares about their future -- including providing counseling and training. Once you see this program in action, you can fully comprehend what a difference it is making. One thing that makes it even more exciting is that youth own this club."

With African Youth in danger of contracting HIV/AIDS, youth programs such as African Club 25 are essential to helping to stop this growing problem.

SOURCE Safe Blood for Africa Foundation
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