Archive
Why we should talk about HIV during the World Cup
Publish Date: Jun 14, 2010
Newvision Archive
  • mail
  • img

By Michel Sidibé

AS football fans from around the world arrived in South Africa to cheer their favourite teams at the World Cup, we must not lose sight of one unwelcome guest — HIV. Why should we talk about HIV during the World Cup?

Two reasons. First, a celebrated sporting event such as the World Cup can encourage the spread of HIV through the combination of alcohol and unsafe sex.

Second, 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.

Football stars and UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassadors Emmanuel Adebayor of Togo and Michael Ballack of Germany have joined forces with UNAIDS to launch a global campaign to prevent babies from becoming infected with HIV.

The campaign aims to mobilise the football community to “give AIDS the red card” and eliminate mother-to-child HIV transmission between now and 2014, when the next World Cup is played in Brazil. 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.

Eliminating mother-to-child HIV transmission is possible.
In high-income countries we have seen transmission rates fall from 25% to between 1% and 5%, in recent years as HIV testing of pregnant women, the use of antiretroviral drugs during and after delivery, and contraception have become widely available.

These successes are now being replicated in countries such as Botswana, Namibia and Swaziland. But more needs to be done.

In most of Africa, only 45% of HIV-positive pregnant women have access to antiretroviral drugs to prevent HIV transmission to their newborns, and just 28% of pregnant women are tested for HIV. In many African countries, AIDS has become the leading cause of death among infants and young children.

In Kenya, up to 22,000 babies are born with HIV each year, and only about two-thirds of HIV-positive pregnant women have access to antiretroviral drugs.

The Government of Kenya remains firmly committed to virtually eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV in four provinces by 2015.
Progress is being seen in South Africa, the World Cup’s host country.

The South African government has shown bold leadership on AIDS in recent months with the launch of a nationwide HIV testing and treatment campaign that urges South Africans to get tested for HIV. By 2011, the campaign aims to provide free and routine HIV counselling and testing to 15 million people, up from 2.5 million in 2009 — a sixfold increase in just two years. And some 1.5 million people will receive antiretroviral therapy by June 2011, up from about 1 million in 2009.

As more mothers learn their HIV status and have increased access to antiretroviral therapy and contraception, HIV transmission rates are expected to drop considerably. With more effective combinations of antiretroviral drugs, South Africa could move towards the virtual elimination of mother-to-child transmission.

If South Africa, the country with the largest number of people living with HIV, can break the spread of the AIDS epidemic, there is hope for other countries to join in championing the AIDS response.

As the football fever spreads across the globe, let’s do everything we can to stop the spread of HIV. We have no excuse.

The writer is the UNAIDS executive director

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
FORMER president Dr. Apollo Milton Obote has been honoured for his distinguished service to Busoga College Mwiri and the nation....
THE Ministry of Health has appealed to religious groups to counsel men to stop having extramarital sex to stem the raising rates of HIV infections....
THE Chinese community in Uganda on Tuesday celebrated their 62nd independence anniversary....
MAKERERE University has sued the National Insurance Corporation (NIC) over a sh16.7b pension savings package it claims the insurance giant owes it....
PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni will lead the alumni of the University of Dar-es-Salaam in Uganda to a fundraising drive targeting sh1b for the Tanzania-based institution....
THE UPDF officers, dressed in neatly pressed uniforms complete with gleaming black boots, took to the podium, many accompanied by their spouses. Then, they were decorated....
Should the absence of bride price prevent couples from wedding?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter