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Togolese footballer joins UN roster of stars spotlighting HIV/AIDS epidemic

Togolese footballer joins UN roster of stars spotlighting HIV/AIDS epidemic

UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador Emmanuel Adebayor
Togolese footballer Emmanuel Adebayor is the latest addition to the United Nations roster of renowned personalities using their star power to raise awareness about the global HIV/AIDS epidemic.

As the newest Goodwill Ambassador for the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the Arsenal star and “African Footballer of the Year” will use his sporting popularity to highlight, among other things, the importance of preventing new infections among young people.

“Sports stars like Emmanuel are excellent role models for young people,” said UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé. “I am confident that he will use the same skill and determination he has on the field in teaching young people about how to protect themselves against HIV off the field.”

About half of all new HIV infections occur among young people between the ages of 15 and 24, according to UNAIDS, which notes that the key to reversing the epidemic is preventing infections among this age group.

Mr. Adebayor’s interest in working on AIDS issues began after seeing the impact of the epidemic in his native Togo.

“Young people are most affected by the epidemic around the world,” he said. “Many of these young people aren’t aware of HIV and the risk of infection, and don’t know how to protect themselves. I hope I can help change this in my new role as UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador.”

He joins fellow footballer and UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador Michael Ballack, working together in an HIV awareness campaign, ‘On the pitch we compete – off the pitch we are uniting the world against AIDS.’

UNAIDS works with a number of prominent individuals from the arts, science, literature, entertainment, sport and other fields to strengthen awareness on AIDS. They include Princess Stephanie of Monaco, actors Rupert Everett and Naomi Watts, and Salman Ahmad, lead singer and founding member of one South Asia’s biggest rock bands, ‘Junoon.’