Jamra primary scholl for children affected by HIV/AIDS, drugs or poverty, Senegal (c) Nell Freeman/Alliance Participants in the Photovioce project, Ecuador © Marcela Nievas for the Alliance
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Football fights back against HIV/AIDS


Aids Alliance

Eighteen people from twelve developing countries are visiting Brighton for the first time to receive specialised training on football and HIV prevention, treatment and care at the new American Express Community Stadium this week.

Albion in the Community (AITC) – the charitable arm of Brighton & Hove Albion football club - and the International HIV/AIDS Alliance - an international development charity based in Brighton - are organising an intensive course to help participants to use football as a way of reaching young people in their communities to stop the spread of HIV.

“This is an exciting opportunity for two Brighton based organisations to come together and help support the global fight against the spread of HIV,” said Sam McPherson, Associate Director of the International HIV/AIDS Alliance. Currently, for every one person starting treatment two others are becoming infected. The numbers will continue to grow unless we can prevent the spread of HIV in the first place.”

Participants will spend the week developing their skills in football coaching, leadership and understanding of HIV/AIDS prevention with football and HIV experts.

Bennett Dean/Brighton & Hove Albion FC

“Football is a highly effective method of reaching young people and developing their confidence, skills and understanding of HIV,” explains Jacob Naish, Head of Community Cohesion for Albion in the Community. “We want the participants to go back to their countries confident to tackle not just a football but life and death issues.”

“I would like to congratulate the International HIV/AIDS Alliance on the great work they do all year round” commented Simon Kirby, Member of Parliament for Brighton Kemptown and Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for HIV/AIDS, “and for their community based approach to tackling the issues and problems associated with HIV/AIDS”.

The state-of-the-art AMEX Stadium will host participants from countries as far away as Haiti.  Cedric Zevallos is one of the participants. He lives in Port au Prince in Haiti, a city that was devastated by the powerful earthquake in 2010.

“In Haiti, football is not just a passion but one of the rare tools able to bring together the youth no matter how hard life’s situations are. I’m really looking forward to meeting the other people taking part and sharing ideas and experiences with them. I want to develop my football coaching and HIV communication skills so I can take them back to Haiti and make improvements to how we help prevent HIV through sport."

Albion in the Community and the Alliance are hoping that this will be the start of what will be an annual event.

Read the Guardian's coverage of the event Using football to kick about a message on AIDS.