Sportsmen join fight against Aids

NATIONAL and international sports stars have joined the fight against HIV-Aids.

NATIONAL and international sports stars have joined the fight against HIV-Aids.

The group, which includes soccer players Matthew Booth, Teko Modise and Benni McCarthy, Springbok captain John Smit, Proteas captain Graeme Smith and Bulls rugby team player Tiger Mangweni, have pledged their support for the Brothers for Life Sports Ambassadors campaign.

They are also taking a stand against violence against women and children in South Africa and southern Africa.

As part of the campaign the sports ambassadors will promote messages on the risks of alcohol, sex and HIV, promote correct and consistent condom usage, mobilise men to take up counselling and testing in support of President Jacob Zuma's drive to get 16million people tested for HIV, and promote partner reduction through television, radio and outdoor advertising.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, said in a statement: "Once again we call on men of all classes and races to join the fight against HIV and Aids.

"When good men do not stand up to be counted, HIV and Aids spread. When good men are silent when other men brag about committing sexual violence against their partners, HIV and Aids spread. Real men speak up and condemn abuse and mistreatment of women and girl-children. There can never be any excuse for remaining silent."

US ambassador to South Africa Donald Gips welcomed the initiative. "As the major funder of the Brothers for Life campaign, the US government isvery excited to work with some of the best-known names in international sport to promote HIV prevention. These sports leaders set an example and send the messages that men must take responsibility for their own behaviour," Gips said.

International sportsmen that have endorsed the campaign include ManchesterUnited players Ryan Giggs, Patrice Evra and Mame Biram Diof, and Barcelona FC players Lionel Messi, Yaya Toure, Thierry Henry and Seydou Keita.