Asian football community unites to Protect the Goal
Five countries across Asia have embraced the Protect the Goal campaign. An innovative partnership between UNAIDS, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is promoting a multicountry football-based HIV prevention programme in the region.
Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines and Thailand have all committed to carrying out activities with the aim of helping to address HIV transmission among young people.
Myanmar kicked off its campaign in April with a football match at the national stadium featuring national stars Kyaw Ko Ko and Than Than Htwe from the Myanmar men’s and women’s national teams. Supported by the Myanmar National League and the Myanmar Football Federation, the match was played in front of thousands of fans. Through additional activities focusing on young people in schools, football clubs and other venues, the campaign will promote the importance of voluntary HIV testing and the elimination of stigma and discrimination towards people living with HIV.
The UNAIDS–AFC–ADB initiative will be implemented by the Myanmar National League and Football United, a flagship programme of the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of New South Wales, Australia.
Cambodia has also initiated activities within the campaign. In March 2014, stars of the Phnom Penh Crown Football Club came out to support the Protect the Goal campaign and entertain fans in an event supported by the SALT Academy, the Football Federation of Cambodia and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport.
Malaysia, Thailand and Philippines are all set to roll out key activities in the near future, with Malaysia officially launching its campaign on 16 May.
The UNAIDS–AFC–ADB initiative is part of the Protect the Goal campaign efforts to roll out activities and messages on HIV prevention in the lead up to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, where there will be an event profiling the global campaign in Salvador, Bahia, on 9 June 2014.
“Football is more than a sport, its magic power changes people’s lives and is one of the best vehicles to bring HIV prevention messages to people in Myanmar.”
Dr Tun Aung Shwe, Programme Director of Football United, Myanmar
“There is an urgent need to scale-up HIV prevention and treatment services. Despite the decline in HIV prevalence since 2007, there are still nearly 200 000 people living with HIV in the country, with around 7000 new HIV infections annually.”
Eamonn Murphy, UNAIDS Myanmar Country Director
“This campaign builds upon the commitments such as the Millennium Development Goals and the 10 targets endorsed at the United Nations 2011 Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS, as well as the vision of getting to zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.”
Michelle Gyles-McDonnough, United Nations Resident Coordinator for Malaysia and United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam