Aston Villa captain and Bulgarian international Stiliyan Petrov has agreed to become patron of Football Saving Lives. The HIV awareness campaign, which seeks to educate football fans about the importance of HIV testing, focuses on communicating with an audience often under-exposed to HIV messages.
One in four of those with HIV in the UK are unaware they’re infected, and the only way to improve diagnosis in the UK is to increase awareness about HIV and how to get tested for it. Much stigma still surrounds HIV – for instance, many still wrongly believe that taking an HIV test will impact upon their mortgage or life insurance – and this dissuades people from asking their GP for a test.
Football Saving Lives is an innovative, accessible public health campaign which uses the support of high profile players, managers and clubs to get past the normal barriers to HIV education. People can turn off when they think they’re being lectured to about their health – but with ad programmes, sponsorship and players speaking out, Football Saving Lives tries to reach parts other HIV campaigns sometimes don’t.
“As patron of Football Saving Lives,” says Stiliyan, “it is my goal to see a player from every team in the Premier League supporting the charity. In that way, our message about the importance of HIV education and testing could reach literally millions of people.”
Stiliyan’s role will be to advocate for Saving Lives amongst players and fans alike, helping us communicate key HIV messages to ever wider audiences. In this way, we’ll increase awareness and get more people diagnosed earlier – giving those people access to life-saving treatment, and ensuring we control the spread of the infection.
“I hope others, too, will give their support to Saving Lives,” said Stiliyan, signing his name to special message. We couldn’t agree more!
You can read more about Stiliyan Petrov here.