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Aids gets the red card in Africa

Sports fans across Africa are being urged to give Aids the red card, in the lead up to the continent’s biggest multi-sport games.

The 10th All-Africa Games is expected to attract about 30,000 tourists when it opens tomorrow at the Zimpeto stadium in Mozambique.

“Reducing the numbers of new HIV infections is nowhere more imperative or urgent than in Africa,” said Michel Sidibé from the United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAIDS). “The All-Africa Games are a great occasion to raise wide awareness about intensifying efforts to reach UNAIDS' vision of Zero new infections, Zero discrimination, and Zero Aids-related deaths,” he told the African Press Organisation.

The UNAIDS Give AIDS the Red Card campaign aims to raise awareness and strengthen the response to HIV and accelerate progress across Africa. It was introduced at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa with the support of 28 team captains.

“Sport brings people together and is especially popular among young people,” said Mozambique's Minister of Youth and Sports, Pedrito Caetano. “I urge all the participants and fans across Africa watching the All-Africa Games to learn the facts about HIV prevention and give AIDS the Red Card.”

Today, in the south African country’s capital Maputo, is the first Africa-wide launch of the initiative. Presidents of National Olympic Committees and Ministers of Sport from 47 participating countries are signing a pledge to back the Give Aids the Red Card campaign.

The 2012 Africa Cup of Nations hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon will be the next platform for pan-African mobilization of the initiative.

Mozambicans are welcoming 5,000 athletes who will compete in 23 sports in the Games, including: athletics (track and field events), badminton, basketball, boxing, canoeing, chess, cycling, football, gymnastics, handball, judo, karate, netball, rowing, sailing, shooting, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, triathlon, volleyball and weightlifting.

Sub-Saharan Africa is the world’s most HIV affected region, with an estimated 22.5 million people living with the virus, making up about 68 per cent of the global total. But progress is being made. In 22 countries, the HIV incidence rate declined by more than 25 per cent between 2001 and 2009.

Meeting at the 2011 UN High-Level Meeting on Aids in New York, world leaders agreed on far-reaching targets to halve the number of new Aids infections through sexual transmission and drug use, wipe out new HIV infections among children, and cut TB-related Aids deaths by half — all by 2015.

Hayley attribution