BLANTYRE (MaraviPost)–Asamoah Gyan, the celebrated Ghana soccer star and captain of the Black Stars, will on Thursday at Sanjika Palace help to kick-off Malawi’s “Protect the Goal”campaign which aims to re-invigorate HIV prevention in a country ravaged by AIDS and where only 42 percent of 15-24 year olds have accurate and comprehensive knowledge of HIV.
At the same function, President APM will sign a “Global Ball” to re-affirm his commitment to HIV prevention, following the footsteps of 15 other African leaders who have inked the ‘Global Ball.”
Gyan, who will be on three-day visit to Malawi, is the Lead Sports celebrity for a similar project back home. He will be accompanied by his manager Samuel Addo and renowned Ghanaian jazz saxophonist Steve Bedi, also goodwill ambassador for the project in Ghana.
“The three-day visit will include various activities and events organised to highlight the importance of harnessing the power of football to raise awareness of HIV, particularly amongst the youth,” organisers of the visit, said in a joint statement.
Facilitators of the visit are the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, who have partnered with the Football Association of Malawi (FAM), UNAIDS Malawi, and National AIDS Commission (NAC). Airtel and Standard bank are the private sponsors.
“Protect the Goal” campaign was launched in Malawi, where nearly half a million people are on ARVS, in 2013 to “use football as a platform to scale up access to HIV information and services among the youth,” the statement said.
The project also aims at mobilising young people to commit to HIV prevention. Many of the youth are unaware of their HIV status and lack access to life-saving ARVs treatment.
The campaign seeks to contribute towards the attainment of the three zeros—zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS related deaths “through the galvanised power of football,” the organisers said.
In Malawi, where over 32,000 new HIV infections are reported every year, 50 percent of the 15 million citizens is aged 17 years or less and HIV prevalence among adolescent Malawians (15-17) has more than doubled since 2004, health experts say.
“There is urgent need to address the lack of access to HIV and AIDS information and services as without comprehensive information on sexual reproductive health rights and HIV, young people in Malawi are inadequately equipped to protect themselves from the epidemic,” the statement issued by the partners said.