Press release

Korean football icon appointed UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador

Korean footballer Myung-Bo Hon with the UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé. Seoul, 28 November 2011.

SEOUL, Republic of Korea, 28 November 2011— Iconic Korean football star, Myung-Bo Hong, was appointed as a UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador during a press conference held at Yonsei University in Seoul. In this capacity, Myung-Bo Hong will raise awareness on HIV prevention among young people and help break down the barriers of stigma and discrimination surrounding HIV, particularly within the Republic of Korea and across Asia.

“As one of the greatest Asian football players of all time, Myung-Bo Hong will be a compelling advocate on HIV prevention for young people and football fans worldwide,” said Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director. “I am honoured UNAIDS will work with such an inspiring athlete to disseminate vital messages about HIV to young people.”

“Accelerated efforts are needed on HIV to ensure zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero deaths,” said Mr Byeongleul Jun, Director of the Korean Centre for Disease Control and Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare. “The involvement of a sporting hero as great as Myung-Bo Hong can greatly advance this important agenda and make a difference in the AIDS response around the world,” he said.

Myung-Bo Hong joins prominent individuals from the world of arts, science, literature, entertainment as an advocate for zero new HIV infections and zero discrimination. Other UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassadors include Naomi Watts, Annie Lennox, and Michael Ballack.

“People living with HIV are people like you and me,” said Myung-Bo Hong during the appointment ceremony. “They have rights and should not be discriminated against. I am delighted to be working with UNAIDS to use sport to help bring an end to AIDS.”

Currently Korea’s National Olympic Football Team Manager, Myung-Bo Hong, played for the country’s national football team in four consecutive World Cups (1990-2002) and was chosen among the “FIFA 100”, a selection of the 125 greatest living footballers in the world made by Brazilian football legend Pelé. He was the first Asian footballer to receive FIFA’s World Cup Bronze Ball in 2002.

“We are very glad UNAIDS has recognized Myung-Bo Hong as both a sports celebrity and a prominent humanitarian. Mr. Hong has established a great level of influence in football worldwide, and his appointment as the UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador has great potential to make a critical push against HIV infections and discrimination,” said Mr Soo-Gil Park, President of World Federation of United Nations Associations.

Globally there are more than 5 million young people living with HIV and every day 2400 young people become infected with the virus. Although young people are increasingly learning how to protect themselves, only one-third of young people globally have accurate and comprehensive knowledge of how to protect themselves from HIV.

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