During the 90-minute span of a football match, some 400 young people,
aged 15 to 24 years old, around the world will be infected with
the HIV virus, some 100 children under the age of 15 will die of
AIDS, and another 400 will lose their parents to AIDS.
||In Thailand, a puppet show about the
need for AIDS awareness, written, directed and performed by
children, is presented to a class.
Of the 40 million people living with HIV/AIDS, more than a quarter
are aged 15-24. Half of all new infections occur in young people.
And by 2010, that number is expected to more than double.
Children who lose parents to AIDS are at risk for tremendous psychological
distress. Their families may suffer financial hardship, and the
children are often forced to drop out of school and work, taking
on adult responsibilities at a time when they should be able to
learn and play. As they easily fall into poverty, they are likely
to suffer from mall-nutrition or illness.
Because young people play an increasing role in the spread of AIDS,
UNICEF believes they can also play a major role in the fight against
it. To educate young people about HIV/AIDS and to prevent its spread,
UNICEF is working with FIFA to use the power of football as a tool
in fighting the disease.
Football is the most popular sport in the world, played by hundreds
of millions of children. The game can provide an important diversion
in an otherwise difficult life. It helps young people fill free
time in a productive way and gives them a sense of normalcy. Perhaps
more importantly, UNICEF and FIFA hope to use football as a way
to educate young people about how AIDS is contracted, how it can
be treated and what services are available to those living with
UNICEF in the field
UNICEF supports a variety of football programmes aimed at HIV/AIDS
education. At half time during the matches, coaches, players and
aid workers distribute brochures and information packets and hold
discussions on preventing the disease.
In Awassa, Ethiopia,
a group of youths has formed the Tabor Wegagen Anti-AIDS Association
football club, in which team members distribute HIV/AIDS awareness
pamphlets to spectators before each match. Team members are also
trained to help persuade other young men and women to change their
Comvida, an organization supported by UNICEF and the Honduran Ministry
of Health, has been conducting theatrical presentations during half
times at football matches across Honduras to raise awareness about
HIV/AIDS. The actors play an exhibition football match and use the
game to illustrate how HIV passes from one person to another and
what people can do to protect themselves.
In Kibera, a suburb of Nairobi,
Kenya, where one in five people are infected and thousands have
already died, leaving some 50,000 orphans behind, UNICEF has begun
to help sponsor football games to provide children with a form of
recreation. At half time, coaches invite their opponents over for
a chat about girls, relationships, safe sex and AIDS.