A vibrant initiative using the great popularity of football to promote AIDS awareness and prevention through the Give AIDS the Red Card campaign is being planned by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the South African Football Association (SAFA) for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN 2013). The planned cooperation between UNAIDS and SAFA for CAN 2013 includes joint efforts to enlist the support of national football associations in qualified countries, facilitate engagement of football stars and prominent personalities, organise a Give AIDS the Red Card media event, and intensive youth outreach activities focusing on HIV prevention.
“Young people are the leaders of tomorrow,” said Kirsten Nemantadani, President of SAFA. “It is therefore crucial to reach them with messages on AIDS awareness and prevention”.
Every day 3000 young people become infected with HIV, and more than 5 million are living with HIV, with only a minority having access to lifesaving treatment. Over 40% of all new HIV infections are among youth ages 15 to 24. Sub-Saharan Africa makes up to nearly 80% (about 4 million) of young people living with HIV globally.
“We should use CAN2013 arena and the ‘Red Card’ initiative to persuade both athletes and spectators to do voluntary HIV testing and counselling, advancing our prevention efforts” said H.E. Dr Pakishe Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Health, Republic of South Africa.
Announced today by Djibril Diallo, Senior Adviser to the Executive Director of UNAIDS at a high-level advocacy meeting with the South African Minister of Health and Kirsten Nemantadani, the initiative advances UNAIDS’ vision of ‘Zero new infections, Zero discrimination, and Zero AIDS-related deaths’. It aims to mobilise the worlds of sport and culture to strengthen the response to the AIDS epidemic and accelerate progress across Africa on the occasion of CAN 2013.
“As the most important pan-African football competition, CAN 2013, brings unprecedented opportunity to raise AIDS awareness in the run-up and during the tournament itself, including community events,” said Diallo.
Launched by UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé in cooperation with SAFA and other partners at the historic 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, the Give AIDS the Red Card campaign focused on preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV. The campaign enlisted the support of 28 team captains around the globe.
“At this stage in the planning process, we hope to reach out to a wide range of national and international stakeholders under the leadership of SAFA to carry forward advocacy for the Red Card,” said Catherine Sozi, UNAIDS Country Coordinator in South Africa.
UNAIDS further started preparation to engage high-level leadership in order to take this campaign forward at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.