CONCACAF and the United Nations partner in awareness campaign

concacaf950CONCACAF Tournament highlighted UNAIDS 'Protect the Goal' HIV campaign

Panama, 19 April 2013 — The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 19 April in Panama City, Panama, and agreed to engage football in the AIDS response, particularly among young people.

The agreement was signed during the XXVIII CONCACAF Ordinary Congress and on the sideline of the final game of the 2013 CONCACAF Under-17 Championship, a 12-team tournament which decided the Confederation's representative to the 2013 FIFA Under-17 World Cup scheduled for October in the United Arab Emirates.

CONCACAF's President Jeffrey Webb and Senior Adviser Dr Djibril Diallo, who represented UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé signed the agreement in the presence of FIFA President Sepp Blatter, FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke and Confederation of African Football (CAF) Secretary General Hishram ElAmrani.

CONCACAF and UNAIDS agreed to an unprecedented commitment to carry out joint advocacy and communications activities in regional competitions organized by CONCACAF in support of the UNAIDS "Protect the Goal" campaign.

"We are keen to join forces with UNAIDS for the 'Protect the Goal' campaign in support of a healthier society," said President Webb. "Football and health are natural companions. We hope we can expand this partnership to other realms of support in order to convey educational messages through the power of our sport."

The "Protect the Goal" initiative was launched in January at the 2013 Orange Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa and is part of UNAIDS' sport for global advocacy programme. The campaign promotes HIV prevention and treatment, in advance of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

"HIV prevention and football are a winning combination. Millions of young people are involved in football either as players or fans," said UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé. "CONCACAF is a key partner and together we can reach millions of young people and ensure they have access to accurate information about HIV so that they can protect themselves and lead healthy and productive lives."

Globally, an estimated 4.6 million young people (15-24 years of age) are living with HIV. Many young people living with HIV, who are eligible for treatment lack access 

or do not know their HIV status. In Latin America, the situation among youth is of particular concern. Less than 30% of 15-24 year olds could correctly identify how to prevent sexual transmission of HIV, and condom use in this age group remains low, while only 30% of women aged 20 to 24 report using condoms during their last sexual activity. The "Protect the Goal" campaign also stresses the need for ensuring all the 15 million people eligible for life-saving antiretroviral treatment can access it by 2015.

During the CONCACAF Under-17 Championship in Panama, UNAIDS and CONCACAF disseminated HIV prevention messages in the Rommel Fernandez stadium. Most notably, the captains of the two teams playing in the final read a statement calling on players, football fans and young people to support the "Protect the Goal" campaign.

It was the first time that Panama staged the CONCACAF finals, where Mexico won over Panama. The twelve teams participating in the championship were: Barbados, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States. Mexico, Panama, Canada and Honduras qualified as the Confederation's representative to the 2013 FIFA Under-17 World Cup.


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