South Africa: AIDS Activists Use World Cup to Spread Their Message
June 11, 2010
Organizations, celebrities, and activists plan to use the World Cup in South Africa to help spread the message of HIV prevention. Activities will include testing at stadium parking lots, giving out condoms, and raising awareness about safe sex.
South Africa has an estimated 5.7 million HIV-infected people, more than any other country. Last year, the government vowed to cut new infections by half and improve access to AIDS drugs.
The South African private organization Right to Care plans to sell red vuvuzelas -- plastic horns fans blow at games -- with the message "make noise for HIV." The proceeds will be used to fund AIDS treatment for the poor. The group's mobile testing units will be at stadiums and other places fans gather.
Soccer superstar David Beckham will spread the message that more men need to support their partners in getting treatment for HIV/AIDS. Beckham has met with HIV-positive South African pregnant women and new mothers in his role as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador.
Miriam Mhazo, an official with the Independent Society for Family Health, said South Africans are "very celebrity conscious." "You use celebrities to talk about important issues, and people stop and listen," she said.
Another celebrity, U2's Bono, is working with Nike and other major retailers to sell (RED) project T-shirts and shoes, with the proceeds going to AIDS and other global health projects.
The World Cup organization has founded Football for Hope centers to give schoolchildren sex education and AIDS prevention messages. A UN-sponsored song addressing AIDS hunger and poverty, performed by African stars, will be featured at the tournament. And free condoms supplied by the government will be offered at hotels catering to fans.
Malaria also is on the World Cup's health agenda. Halftime videos will promote malaria prevention and seek donations to fight the disease, which kills 1 million people annually.
06.08.2010; Donna Bryson
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