Three of Manchester United’s biggest stars have teamed up with UNICEF, the international children’s charity, to target Aids in Sierra Leone.
A series of giant posters featuring the players were unveiled last Saturday to mark World Aids Day. They will go up on billboards next month to promote HIV awareness among the West African country’s three million young people. Ryan Giggs, 34, Rio Ferdinand, 29, and Patrice Evra, 26, a diplomat’s son who was born in Senegal, Sierra Leone’s near-neighbour, appear together and separately in the posters, which urge people to use condoms and get tested. According to UNICEF, 1.5% of the population are infected.
That is low compared with some African countries, but the number of reported cases has increased by 75% in the past five years.
Surveys show that as few as 17% of youngsters in Sierra Leone know how to protect themselves against a disease that kills 4,400 people in sub-Saharan Africa every day.
The footballers have also recorded a series of television and radio advertisements at Manchester United’s training ground to help to spread the message.