At Grassroot Soccer we harness the power of sport in the fight against HIV and this is an opportunity for you to do the same. While you watch soccer games with friends and family do not be scared to use the opportunity to talk about HIV.
Around the world there are over 70 00 new HIV infections daily, with over 1 000 of them in South Africa. We are at the epicentre of the global HIV pandemic and it is estimated that last year more than 250 000 people died in South Africa from AIDS related illnesses. That is more than three Soccer City stadiums worth of people. More than half of all new infections are among young people, with women and girls disproportionally affected.
Perhaps this is not news to you but what might be is that these numbers are in fact coming down. The number of new infections per year is 50% less than it was ten years ago; the number of deaths is down by more than 100 000. In other words, last year alone all the efforts on HIV in SA saved at least one Soccer City stadium full of people!
Old Mutual has released data showing a significant reduction in claims on life insurance policies for AIDS related deaths. HIV prevalence among children aged 15 to 19 has been dropping steadily every year since 2006. It really seems that UNAIDS’ rally cry of getting to ZERO is possible in our lifetime: Zero new HIV infections, Zero discrimination and Zero AIDS related deaths.
While our government has been criticised in the past about our national response, however, it is now highly regarded worldwide. Testing and treatment is almost universally available and HIV education is deeply embedded in our school curricula.
The question is: what can each of us do to take this glimmer of hope and turn it into a landslide victory over AIDS?
At Grassroot Soccer we have a mantra for how to win in soccer and life:
Know the Game. Build Your Team. Make Your Move.
First, Know the Game: Every South African should know the game for themselves. Learn as much as you can about HIV and how it affects you, your family and your work. Take some time to visit great resources like www.avert.org or www.unaids.org and learn something new.
Next, Build your Team: Find people in your life that you can discuss HIV with, people that will support you if you are positive or that you can support in return. HIV no longer needs to be a death sentence but the stigma around the disease means people still die unnecessarily or spread the disease while treatment would reduce their likelihood of infecting others.
Lastly, Make Your Move. Go for an HIV test. You will learn a lot about the disease in the process. And encourage others to talk openly about HIV thereby reducing the stigma.
For more information on Grassroot Soccer and how you can help visit: http://www.grassrootsoccer.org