By Wallace Mawire Harare :For the first time that the World Cup is being played in Africa, the ‘AIDS Highway’ will witness a spectacular combination of the screening of the matches in conjunction with the screening of HIV and AIDS information videos from June 11th to 11th July 2010. The long journey will start along the AIDS Highway (From Kenya, to Johannesburg), where increased mobility and migration in conjunction with rising disposable incomes and the associated escalation of transactional sex are major contributors to the spread of HIV through the region.
The theme is:Africa WINS when You prevent HIV.It is a partnership project between Africa Goal and SAFAIDS.
Dubbed the Africa Goal Campaign, the initiative will witness a team of volunteers driving from Nairobi, Kenya down to Johannesburg South Africa, projecting live World Cup football games on a retractable screen along the journey. The Africa Goal team will target the most disadvantaged and hard to reach villages. These are communities that would never have known about the world cup and very little about HIV.
The project will give them an opportunity to actually watch games as they are happening, touch and blow the vuvuzela bringing the game spirit right into the village. Every afternoon or evening throughout the duration of the tournament, with the help of Digital Satellite Television and a projector, speakers, and a DC/AC inverter, the team will screen the live 2010 World Cup games. Before every live game, the team shall screen HIV and AIDS awareness media supplied by SAfAIDS – the centre for excellence in HIV prevention based in Pretoria, UNAIDS and, when possible, by local NGOs. HIV prevention kits with a vuvuzela bearing a key HIV message will be distributed in the villages to reach close to 20 000 people along the way. While the educational videos will be watched by all the football fans, the largest sector of the football audience is people aged between 15 and 49, correlating with the age sector most severely affected by HIV and AIDS.
In the spirit of the World Cup, the Africa Goal and SAfAIDS vision is to harness the energy and passion of the games to promote increased awareness about the HIV epidemic which has impacted upon the region so dramatically. The main focus will be mainly on HIV prevention, taking a holistic definition of prevention to include the promotion of knowing one’s HIV status; safer sex practices; positive prevention and acknowledging ART as a component of prevention.
With the majority of the audience not having seen live World Cup matches on a big screen before, the occasion will be a highly memorable one and HIV information disseminated at the games will, therefore, imprint on the memories of the viewers and serve as a vital reminder as to how each and every person must play their part in reducing HIV prevalence in the region. On the 11th of July the tired team is expected to arrive in Johannesburg in time for the final match in which we all hope Africa will win.
Indeed Africa WINS when we all prevent HIV says the collaborating partners.