Ryan Giggs embarked on a different kind of international break last month, when he travelled to Sierra Leone in his role as a UNICEF ambassador.
He witnessed at first hand how funds raised by the United For UNICEF partnership are being used to combat the spread of HIV in the West African state. It’s a major challenge - currently 935,000 people in Sierra Leone have HIV, following a 75% increase in new infections since 2002.
Raising awareness is a key objective - only 17% of young people in Sierra Leone understand how to protect themselves against HIV.
In an effort to improve this percentage, UNICEF have used the power of football - and United in particular - to communicate with young fans in Sierra Leone. Giggs and his team-mates Patrice Evra and Rio Ferdinand appeared on billboards and television commercials in the country, prior to Ryan’s visit in person.
“The main purpose of my trip was to help educate young people in Sierra Leone and give them the knowledge to prevent the spread of HIV,” says Ryan.
“When we were discussing locations for a field trip with UNICEF, I suggested Sierra Leone because my father’s grandparents are from there.”