Concerted HIV-AIDS action needed after the World Cup

By staff writers
July 20, 2010

Doctors in a number of countries have been advising football fans who went to the World Cup in South Africa to check their HIV status if they had unprotected sex on their trip.

Both secular and faith-related development agencies also say that more action is needed to tackle HIV-AIDS in the country, as part of the 'legacy' of the global tournament.

South Africa is battling an AIDS epidemic, and around six million people are currently living with HIV.

The concern for those travelling back to Europe, Asia, Latin America and elsewhere is that more than two-thirds of heterosexual men and a quarter of women who contract HIV do so through 'holiday sex'.

Now an awareness campaign in the UK is urging those who may have put themselves at risk to visit their local sexual health clinic.

The BBC reports that the campaign launched by Birmingham's Heartlands Hospital is backed by national organisations.

Dr Steve Taylor, sexual health and HIV consultant at Heartlands Hospital, said nearly one in five young adults living in South Africa were infected with the virus, and in some areas it could be as high as one in three.

South Africa is believed to have more people with HIV/AIDS than any other country in the world. The problem is exacerbated by poverty and lack of education in one of the world's most unequal countries.

On 19 July 2010, scientists reported a major stride towards a vaginal gel that can thwart HIV, a goal that would be of huge benefit to African women bearing the brunt of the AIDS pandemic.

A prototype cream tested in South Africa reduced the risk of infection by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) by 39 per cent overall, but by 54 per cent among those women who used it most consistently, says the new report.

Its publication coincided with the six-day 18th International AIDS Conference, which opened in Vienna on 18 July.

But development campaigners, including the global Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, warn that technical and medical advances have to be matched by funding, development and anti-poverty and anti-stigma action.


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