June 16, 2010
In a New Vision opinion piece, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe describes the opportunity the World Cup presents to talk openly about HIV: Not only does "a celebrated sporting event such as the World Cup ... encourage the spread of HIV through the combination of alcohol and unsafe sex," Sidibe writes, but "almost 80 babies are born with HIV during the 90 minutes it takes to play a football match. This translates into 430,000 babies infected each year. Because we have the means to stop this tragedy, we must act today."
Sidibe describes how UNAIDS has teamed up with leaders among the football community in a campaign to eliminate mother-to-child HIV transmission by the time the next World Cup is held in 2014, before noting the successes and challenges in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) to date. "To date, football captains from a range of countries -- Australia, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, France, Ghana, Greece, Nigeria, Paraguay, Serbia, South Africa and Uruguay -- have signed an appeal committing them to use the power and outreach of football to create an HIV-free generation," Sidibe writes. "As the football fever spreads across the globe, let's do everything we can to stop the spread of HIV" (6/14).