The North East of India: 'scoring a goal' against drug use, HIV and AIDS in Mizoram
On 19 February 2010, more than 10,000 eager spectators had jam-packed the soccer ground in Aizawl, Mizoram waiting for the kick-off of the finals of the inter-state Red Ribbon football tournament between the two contenders, Electric Veng and Dinthar Village. The winning team Electric Veng scored 2:0 winning a cash prize of Rs 100,000 (US$ 2173) and a wild bull, the biggest football tournament prize ever in Mizoram.
The tournament was part of the multimedia campaign, organized by the Government of Mizoram, the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), the Mizoram State AIDS Control Society (MSACS) and UNODC aiming at spreading the message on prevention of drug use, HIV and AIDS among youth.
More than 66 percent of HIV positive people in Mizoram are below 42 years of age. Almost one third of HIV infections in Mizoram are among injecting drug users (IDUs). While young people are greatly affected by HIV, they also can do much to prevent and contain the epidemic. Initiatives like the inter-state Red Ribbon football tournament help young people think about risks associated with use of drugs and also help them modify their behaviours that put them at greater risk of HIV. Some 4,000 players played a total of 213 matches wearing T-shirts with the message "Healthy living to prevent HIV/AIDS". Also, each player took a pledge to help reduce HIV. Spectators participated through banner competitions and short message service (SMS) quiz competitions on drug use, HIV and AIDS.
In addition to the 10,000 spectators, some 100,000 viewers saw the event through television. Mr. Lal Thanhawla, Chief Minister of Mizoarm, Mr. Lalrinliana Sailo, Honourable Health Minister, Government of Mizoram and Chairman of the campaign, members of the legislative assembly and UNODC were also present and participated actively in the event.
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Press coverage for the event
Tackling AIDS with the power of football, Bureau Report Aizawl, Mizoram 19 February 2010