|© UNICEF video|
|Tennis world champion and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Roger Federer appears in a UNICEF public service announcement on HIV/AIDS for World AIDS Day, 1 December.|
By David Koch
NEW YORK, USA, 26 November 2007 – Roger Federer, the Association of Tennis Professionals world number-one tennis player and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, took a break from his whirlwind schedule of tournaments, grand slams and public appearances to record a video message raising awareness about HIV and AIDS.
The public service announcement supports the Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS campaign, launched by UNICEF and UNAIDS to draw attention to the impact of the disease on children and young people. Since the campaign launched in 2005, several countries have begun local initiatives of their own, engaging thousands in the struggle.
Children infected with HIV or orphaned by AIDS often face enormous stigma and discrimination. Being able to talk about the virus in the first place is key to creating an AIDS-free generation.
|Roger Federer on set before recording his World AIDS Day message in New York City.|
The power of sport
“I’ve seen kids in South Africa who’ve been affected and it’s a very big problem, especially in the poorer countries,” said Mr. Federer, whose mother was born in South Africa. “It’s important to break down discrimination and stigma. Many people always think ‘I can’t talk to this person’, but I think it’s very important to speak openly about it. Ask your parents, teachers and coaches.”
Mr. Federer was appointed as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 2006 and joins many other celebrities and sports personalities in lending their voices to the AIDS campaign, including Whoopi Goldberg, David Beckham, Amitabh Bachchan, Shakira and stars from the National Basketball Association and the International Cricket Council.
“Sports have always been a great part of my life. It brings people together, so it’s easier to talk about a subject like HIV,” added Mr. Federer. “Sport inspires you to move on in life, and it’s important to speak together if you’re playing a team sport.”
Making HIV a thing of the past
On his first trip as a Goodwill Ambassador last year, Mr. Federer visited a life-skills workshop in India, which offered practical information to young people to help them make responsible decisions – such as how to best protect themselves from HIV/AIDS and educate others about the disease.
“I think if people can help the process, trying to make HIV a thing of the past, I’m willing to help, too,” he said. “It’s a hard subject to talk about. People sometimes try to avoid it – that’s not the way to go.”
Mr. Federer’s video message in English, French and German will be released to mark this year’s World AIDS Day on 1 December.
Behind the scenes