Two University Students Take on HIV in Africa

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Two students from Switzerland and the UK are planning a condom campaign to help combat HIV in Africa. Their idea is simple: The Coca-Cola Company reaches millions of people with their products daily - supplying condoms with them could spread awareness and drastically reduce infection numbers.

We want to make helping out and getting involved as easy as joining a group on Facebook. There will be updates on condomunity.com, where we hope we can get even more people involved in the process of shaping a condom campaign and do something tremendously important.

Coca-Cola could play a huge part in dramatically reducing HIV/AIDS infection rates in Africa. This is the conviction of two students who want their idea to spread: Troy Kennedy and Simon Schmid used their respective sites, thedebateclub.org and condomunity.com as well as a group on Facebook as the means not only to spread the message of their campaign but also to engage others in the debate and the idea sharing process.

And the effort already shows some initial results. At the recent International AIDS Conference in Mexico City one thing was made clear: measures need to be taken with condoms playing a key role in comprehensive HIV prevention, but donor support for condoms in developing countries remain stagnant and far below projected need. In 2007 33.2 million people lived with the disease, it claimed 2.1 million lives in the same year. Over three-quarters of these deaths occurred in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In the same time, 44 million servings of Coca-Cola products are sold across Africa - a day. This equates to 16 billion bottles a year. In 2005 10.4 billion condoms were used world-wide. More Coca-Cola is sold in Africa alone than condoms are used in the entire world. In respect to these numbers, the question was inevitable: How about distributing condoms on a massive scale in Africa by asking Coca-Cola to team up with the United Nations Population Fund and a condom company and ask them to supply a condom with each bottle? This massive distribution approach would virtually guarantee all people in Africa access to the proper protection they need to combat the virus, and drastically reduce infection rates.

"We primarily aim to persuade the Coca-Cola Company to take another look at using the unique position they have and utilising their unique distribution network to deliver important medicines and protective equipment like condoms to the millions of people that desperately need them," Troy Kennedy said. Now the students intend to continue to use the power of Web 2.0 to see their idea move forward into a position where it will help people. "We want to make helping out and getting involved as easy as joining a group on Facebook. There will be updates on condomunity.com, where we hope we can get even more people involved in the process of shaping a condom campaign and do something tremendously important."

Their campaign is also being pushed with the help of the UK's Channel 4 with their project Battlefront - a platform which young campaigners can stand on to broadcast their ideas on making their communities and countries better places and at the same time have their campaigns held to public voting. It seems Troy and Simon's campaign has captured public imagination as at the time of writing their campaign is extremely popular on Channel 4's Battlefront website.

"When I came across Troy's idea of a more consumer oriented awareness campaign on Facebook, I instantly thought about teaming up and joining forces. Running this from a frequented condom blog could make the message even more relevant and effective," Simon Schmid, editor of condomunity.com added.

For additional information on the subject of this release or any kind of contributions, please use the contact information below to reach either Troy Kennedy or Simon Schmid.

About The Debate Club:
The Debate Club is the nascent network, which aims to get people together to exchange ideas and invent solutions on the world's environmental, societal and political problems, with some of the world's most influential figures. In reality as well as online.

About Condomunity:
Condomunity.com is a new website dedicated to the use of condoms. Their goal is to provide helpful advice and information when it comes to condoms in a trendier and more entertaining and most importantly a more engaging way.

1) Comprehensive HIV prevention: Condoms and Contraceptives Count.
Available at: http://www.populationaction.org/Publications/Reports/Comprehensive_Hiv_Prevention/Summary.shtml

2) Coca-Cola in Africa: Refusing to Cover AIDS Treatment for HIV+ Workers.
Available at: http://www.healthgap.org/press_releases/02/052402_HGAP_PP_Coke_MNC.html

Contact:
Troy Kennedy
Co-Founder of the Debate Club.org
+44 7930 131129
troy (at) thedebateclub (dot) org

Simon Schmid
Founder of condomunity.com
info (at) condomunity (dot) com

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