In 2007, UNICEF and Manchester United developed a campaign in Sierra Leone fronted by Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra aimed at preventing the spread of Aids. In October, Reds legend Ryan Giggs visited Sierra Leone to see first hand the impact the campaign had.
Ryan believes that football players can have real influence when it comes to campaigns such as this and that although educating people about AIDS is a slow process - real progress can be made, during his visit he said:
“Young people watch football, young people support Manchester United, so maybe if some of the people I’ve come across don’t believe in HIV or don’t want to listen to their teachers, maybe they will listen to me because they maybe think I’m a hero or seen me on the TV, they are thinking that he is telling the truth having come all this way, let’s listen to him...You can’t change things over night but it has got to start somewhere. By meeting different people, by meeting a girl’s football team hopefully I can inspire them and they can inspire other young girls to live a healthy lifestyle within the village, within the area and just building up slowly and eventually it reaching to everyone.”
The project has had overwhelmingly positive results on awareness and reducing the stigma attached to AIDS. Following the campaign the of the16 - 39 year olds interviewed, the number of people who ‘believed HIV/ AIDS existed’ rose by 24%, those who admitted to ‘using a condom during their last sexual encounter’ rose by 18% those that ‘would buy food for a family member who was know to have HIV’ rose by 34%.