MPs play football match against the UN in driving snow to fight AIDS

MPs braved the snow and took to the football pitch today, the day before World AIDS Day, against a UN team, to highlight the campaign to end Mother to Child transmission of HIV by 2015. They were awarded for their efforts with a commitment from Government to back the campaign.

The Parliamentary Football Club played a team from the UN who have travelled from the Netherlands as part of the S’porting Lives UK Football Tour 2010 to raise awareness about HIV.

The UN won 4-1, but MPs were pleased to have the chance to play in the snow:

“We’re not scared of a bit of snow.” Said Bill Esterson MP, who scored for Parliament. “We’re asking the Government to support the campaign for an AIDS free generation born in 2015.”

Each year nearly half a million babies are born with HIV or contract it through their mother’s breastmilk. But there are simple and affordable medicines to prevent this.

“Members of the parliamentary team are keen to show solidarity with people living with HIV.” added Russell Brown MP, Vice Chair of the APPG on HIV and AIDS, who also played this morning “Every parent should have access to the medicines they need to have a healthy child”.

The MPs and UN players dedication in spite of the weather has paid off.

The government has today declared its support for the campaign. International Development Minister, Stephen O’Brien said “I wholeheartedly support this campaign and this government will continue to fund programmes that help to eliminate these completely avoidable infections by providing treatment to mothers with HIV.”

Stop AIDS Campaigner, Diarmaid McDonald said, “We are thrilled the Government supports us. We hope they will show their commitment to the issue by giving their fair share donation to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. With the right money, the government could make this incredible goal of no more babies born with HIV possible”

Rick Cottam, UN ICTY worker and manager of the UN Staff Union team, commented:

"Our UN colleagues in South Africahave been telling us about how people living with HIV are often turned away by football teams because of fear or stigma. We are playing in their honour. The same stigma often puts mums off testing for HIV in pregnancy and is a barrier to them taking the medicines they need. This multinational force of United Nations workers armed with the true facts concerning HIV Aids will give no quarter to ignorance and discrimination."

The teams and AIDS campaigners returned to Westminster on the Stop AIDS Campaign double-decker bus, which is supported by Durex. Diarmaid McDonald, Coordinator of the Stop AIDS Campaign said

 “We’re very grateful for Durex’s support for our World AIDS Day awareness work and are delighted they share our vision of an AIDS-free generation by 2015.”

The match is a joint effort which brings together:

UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia(UN-ICTY) Staff Union

HIVsport

The All Party Parliamentary Group on HIV and AIDS

The UKParliamentary Football Club

The Stop AIDS Campaign

Durex

(RED): The United Nations team will be in (RED)™ kit provided by (NIKE)RED

Note to editors:

The S’porting Lives UK Football Tour 2010 is focusing on eradicating the stigma for people living with HIV/AIDS and playing sports. To highlight this, a series of 4 football matches has been organised in the UKand one game on World Aids Day in South Africa.

S’porting Lives partners are HIVsport, Educational Sports Forum and Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) from Cape Town, South Africa. The Unionhas furthermore obtained the support of world players body FIFPro and the Professional Footballers Association (PFA).

ENDS