With the World Cup tournament, soccer’s holy grail, opening soon in South Africa, June 2010, several threats to its success have been forecasted – incomplete facilities, dwindling attendances and terrorism to name a few.
But perhaps the greatest threat of all will be on the health front – the fact that one in every five adults in South Africa have HIV/AIDS. With an estimated 500,000 visitors expected (including an estimated 40,000 prostitutes)during the month-long soccer tournament, the South African authorities have been far from naive and complacent. They are raising fears of a rise in prostitution and sex trafficking from neighbouring countries and eastern Europe, and creating a potential HIV timebomb.
This fear has been translated into action – in a recent visit to the UK, President Jacob Zuma appealed for an extra 1 billion condoms as part of a HIV prevention drive aimed at the influx of visitors during the tournament. The British government responded positively with a pledge to donate 42 million condoms worth GBP 1million as part of the HIV prevention drive.
Another controversial measure being implemented by the South African government is the legalization of prostitution, thereby marginalising criminal operators and bribery, at the same time allowing the police to concentrate on other more serious crime prevention duties.
1 billion condoms for half a million visitors – that works out to 2,000 each – might seem to be a bit of an over-estimate. One thing for sure, better to be safe than sorry!
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