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મુખ્ય પાનુ અધ્યતન સમાચાર South Africa Urged not to Ignore AIDS Threat to World Cup

South Africa Urged not to Ignore AIDS Threat to World Cup

South Africa, which has one of the highest rates of HIV in the world, has no AIDS prevention plan in place for the 450,000 foreign soccer supporters it hopes will travel to the country one year from now for the World Cup.

With 33 percent of women aged 25 to 29 thought to carry the virus, epidemiologists estimate that AIDS–related illnesses will kill 300,000 South Africans in the same year that foreign fans will travel to the nine host cities to enjoy soccer and cheap alcohol.

The South African Law Commission is studying proposals to legalize sex work as experts warn of an influx of women trafficked for prostitution ahead of the World Cup, but it will be at least three months before it releases its findings.

A meeting of stakeholders was also called last week by the South African National AIDS Commission to discuss health–related preparations for the World Cup.

Local World Cup organizing committee spokesman Rich Mkhondo referred questions about arrangements for visiting supporters to the Department of Health.

“Our brief is limited to stadiums, timetables and technology. But beyond hygiene issues in stadiums, such as what to do with litter, we are not responsible for health issues,” he said.

Jonathan Berger of the AIDS Law Project said the lack of preparation was “of concern” with the tournament kick–off scheduled for June 9 next year.

More than US$1.2 billion has been spent on state–of–the–art stadiums and infrastructure projects since South Africa won its World Cup bid in 2004. Yet the country’s HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment programs remain a shambles, amid overspending by the Department of Health, a shortage of drugs and an exodus of underpaid health professionals.

Jackie Selebi, the South African National Police Commissioner who is currently suspended after charges of corruption, suggested recently that sex work and public drinking should be legalized during the World Cup.

“This way of thinking suggests he only has the pleasure of football fans in mind, not the need to protect the rights and livelihoods of sex workers,” said a researcher for Consultancy Africa Intelligence.

Female campaigners have called for southern African regional measures to limit the trafficking of women into South Africa ahead of the World Cup.

South Africa has no laws prohibiting human trafficking.

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Source: Taipei Times

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