Thursday, April 01, 2010

AIDS and malaria awareness at the World Cup

The African continent will host it's first ever football World Cup this summer. Activists will use the world's biggest event to call attention to the problems on the continent. AIDS and malaria advocates will have halftime features, stadium events and more to tell people from around the world about their cause.

From this Associated Press article that we found at E-Taiwan News, writer Donna Bryson details some of the advocacy programs taking place at the World Cup.

South Africa, a nation of about 50 million, has an estimated 5.7 million people infected with HIV, more than any other country. After years of official denial and delay, the government last year embarked on an anti-AIDS drive, vowing to halve new infections and ensure that 80 percent of those who need them have access to AIDS drugs by 2011.

By the time the monthlong World Cup ends on July 11, fans will have had scores of chances to be tested at mobile units parked in stadium car parks, help themselves from baskets of free condoms, and hear their football heroes talk about safe sex.

Right to Care, one of the largest private providers of AIDS treatment, counseling and testing in South Africa, seized on an item that no South African football fan would be without: the plastic horns known as vuvuzelas.

The group's vuvuzelas are bright red with a message in white to "make noise for HIV!" _ a plea to break the silence and stigma surrounding AIDS. The vuvuzela, whose most subtle note is a blare, is perfect for the task.

AIDS isn't the only cause on the World Cup health agenda. Campaigners against malaria, which kills 1 million people a year, have persuaded FIFA to include in halftime entertainment at the stadiums a video message about using bed nets and donating to buy nets and malaria medication for impoverished Africans.

It's not a competition among diseases, said Christina Vilupti-Barrineau, manager of the United Against Malaria campaign that brings together international aid, development and health organizations. Vilupti-Barrineau said that the overall goal is to strengthen health systems in Africa to better cope with malaria, AIDS and other crises.

And Herve Verhoosel, spokesman for the U.N. Roll Back Malaria agency, said football was key to the effort.

No comments: