Blues and Wolves are joining forces at this weekend’s FA Cup with Budweiser game to support the launch of a new public health charity, Saving Lives.
Both teams’ players will wear t-shirts supporting the fantastic initiative in the warm-up ahead of the eagerly anticipated third round cup tie.
One in four of those with HIV in the UK do not know they are infected. By 2012, that will be 25,000 people or more who are unable to access the life-saving treatment available today, and who may be unknowingly transmitting the infection to their partners.
Saving Lives is a new charity with the aim of promoting HIV testing – the only way for anyone to know for sure if they are living with the infection. HIV knows no boundaries of gender, sexuality or race, and it remains a significant public health concern for us all. Awareness of HIV, and of the importance of testing for it, remains low, however.
The support of Blues and Wolves comes after other teams across the country such as Aston Villa, West Brom and Sunderland also offered their backing. Saving Lives aims to communicate to a much broader audience than is usually exposed to HIV education – and hopefully make the issue a more mainstream topic of discussion.
Birmingham City defender Curtis Davies, one of the players who is an ambassador for the charity, says: “Saving Lives is a good cause with a great message. I’m happy to help spread the word as best I can.”
He is joined by Wolves captain, Karl Henry, who adds: “When Saving Lives made me aware about the way in which stigma can actively damage peoples’ health – by dissuading them from getting testing, and volunteering to receive treatment, I knew I had to get involved.”
“The people who die of HIV in this country today are those who are diagnosed late,” says Dr Steve Taylor, the charity’s Medical Director. “People are dying because of a reluctance to test. We can save those lives, and prevent new infections, simply by increasing the number of people we test. Saving lives really is that simple.”
As well as the Saving Lives t-shirts, the messages of Saving Lives will be featured in the matchday programme and on the Birmingham City website, bcfc.com.
The support of both clubs at such a high profile match, and the decision by other key players such as Jonathan Spector and Wayne Hennessey to become advocates for the charity, is a significant step on the way to improving HIV awareness, fighting stigma, and increasing the number of HIV tests undertaken in the UK.