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FIFA and WHO to join forces to promote a human rights approach to HIV/AIDS

Joint news release WHO/Fédération Internationale de Football Association

Dr Jim Kim (right) and footballer Christian Karembeu (left)
Dr Jim Kim (right) and footballer Christian Karembeu (left) at a benefit football session

To mark world Human Rights Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) and FIFA (the Fédération Internationale de Football Association) are joining forces to address stigma and discrimination in the context of HIV/AIDS. A cartoon booklet called "HIV/AIDS - Stand Up for Human Rights" is being distributed via five of FIFA's national football associations: in Botswana, Ghana, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia. Events will also be organized in these countries to promote education and awareness-raising among young people.

To raise awareness of the key linkages between HIV/AIDS and human rights and to combat the myths and taboos associated with HIV and AIDS, the cartoon booklet “HIV/AIDS - Stand Up for Human Rights" has been designed to empower young people to promote human rights in relation to HIV/AIDS.

The cartoon begins with young footballers from Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe discussing HIV/AIDS and the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS. The cartoon illustrates how a lack of awareness about HIV/AIDS can contribute to stigma and discrimination of individuals by peers and health professionals in the context of HIV infection.

In one exchange, the young people who have just been educated about HIV/AIDS decide to visit their friend’s mother who is living with HIV. They learn that people with HIV/AIDS are discriminated against in healthcare and employment. They decide to take action to help her obtain access to healthcare and educate the public about the human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS.

"Football is a truly universal sport, and thus can be used as a medium and arena for disseminating important human rights and public health messages,“ FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter said. "Through the universal nature of football, WHO, the United Nations Joint Programme for HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the United Nations Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights have been able to develop a colourful, interactive cartoon booklet on HIV/AIDS which begins with a dialogue between youths at a football field. They are the future of our societies and also the future of our game and must be made aware of the health risks they are likely to encounter.

"Promoting and protecting human rights in the context of HIV/AIDS is essential to ensure an effective response to the epidemic," said Dr Jim Yong Kim, Director of the WHO HIV/AIDS Department. "This means not only ensuring access to treatment as part of the realization of the right to health, but equally addressing HIV-related stigma and discrimination, paying particular attention to vulnerable population groups, incorporating a gender perspective, and making sure that other related human rights aspects, such as the right to information and the right to participation, are integral components in our response to the epidemic."

It is estimated that close to 40 million people are currently living with HIV/AIDS. Of these, an estimated 25.4 million are in Sub-Saharan Africa. Worldwide, an estimated 2.2 million children are estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS, according to the UNAIDS/WHO AIDS epidemic update of 2004.

For more information contact:

Mr Gregory Hartl
Telephone: +41 (22) 791 4458
Mobile phone: +41 (79) 203 6715

Beth Magne-Watts
Telephone: +41 22 791 5074

"Stand up for human rights"