Myung-Bo Hong, UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador

Korean football star, Myung-Bo Hong, was named International Goodwill Ambassador for the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) during a press conference held at Yonsei University in Seoul, Republic of Korea, on 28 November 2011.

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.

Using his influence and popularity as one of the Republic of Korea’s leading athletes, Myung-Bo Hong will raise awareness on HIV prevention among young people and help break down the barriers of stigma and discrimination surrounding HIV.

“People living with HIV are people like you and me,” said Myung-Bo Hong during the appointment ceremony in Seoul. “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.”

Mr Hong is well known in the Republic of Korea for his charitable Foundation supporting development of young people. As both a sports celebrity and a prominent humanitarian, Mr Hong’s appointment has great potential to make a critical impact on young people, particularly within the Republic of Korea and across Asia.

Globally there are more than 5 million young people living with HIV and every day 2 400 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.

“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.”

In his role as International UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador, Mr Hong hosted a charity football match in December 2011 where HIV prevention messages were promoted and players wore red ribbons on their shirts. Mr Hong plans other similar events and activities during his term to advocate for increased focus on HIV prevention among young people and the urgent need to end HIV-related stigma and discrimination.