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Cricket stars visit centre for drug users to raise AIDS awareness

DHAKA, 11 January 2009. A big surprise awaited the service-seekers of the drop-in centre for injecting drug users (IDUs) in Nayabazar area of the old part of the Dhaka city as international and national cricket players visited the centre on Sunday January 11 to promote HIV/AIDS prevention among young people. The centre is run by the NGO CARE Bangladesh and has been supported by UNICEF as part of its project for HIV and AIDS prevention from 2004 to 2008.

Four cricketers from Zimbabwe and the home team Bangladesh came together to meet those attending the centre – including children and adolescents. They delivered a message of friendship and social acceptance as drug users and HIV positive people are neglected and ostracized by the society. Among the players were UNICEF Bangladesh Goodwill Ambassador Mohammed Ashraful and Sakib Al Hasan from the home side. The Zimbabwean squad was represented by Raymond Price and Vusimuzi Sibanda. International Cricket General Manager, David Richardson and the Sri Lankan team manager also took part in the visit.

Being there and showing their solidarity with the drug users and people living with HIV/AIDS is part of a global effort that the cricketers have been batting for – promoting the power of information so young people and others at risk can arm themselves against the HIV virus. Although Bangladesh is still considered as a low prevalence country for HIV/AIDS with less than 1% prevalence rate, it is estimated that 6.4% of drugs users are infected by HIV/AIDS in the capital city . Prevention efforts are crucial to avoid the spread of the epidemic among these vulnerable groups, especially drug users, sex workers and young people in general. The cricketers also advocated for more efforts in the drive against HIV/AIDS so that HIV positive people can access proper services.
 
The visit was organized by UNICEF in close collaboration with the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Bangladesh Cricket Board under the partnership between UNICEF and the ICC for the “Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS” campaign. Under its HIV and AIDS prevention project in Bangladesh, UNICEF provided services to more than 100,000 people through 146 drop-in-centres in 44 districts in 2008 alone.
        
Raymond Price from Zimbabwe team said, the international cricket fraternity was committed to fight HIV/AIDS. “Unfortunately too many young people put their life at risk and do not care about HIV”, he commented. Imploring the drug users, among whom many are adolescents and children, to gradually give up their risky behavior, Mohammed Ashraful, captain of the Bangladesh team, said:  “Life is much like cricket. To save the wicket, every batsman needs to negotiate each ball carefully. Likewise, cautious steps can save a life.” The visiting cricketers especially cautioned them against sharing syringes while drug-taking, which is one of the major causes of HIV transmission.

"The ICC's partnership with UNICEF, UNAIDS and the Global Media AIDS Initiative has for the past five years raised awareness and reduced stigma around HIV/AIDS”, said David Richardson, ICC General Manager -Cricket. “By using high profile cricketers to deliver important messages, our work on HIV/AIDS tries to create awareness and to stop new infections and also encourages young people to live a healthy lifestyle. The ICC’s centenary celebrations provide us with an additional opportunity to deliver these messages across our 104 member countries.” Cricket is a hugely popular sport in many developing countries that are affected by HIV/AIDS and where children are vulnerable to many diseases.

The partnership between ICC, UNICEF, UNAIDS and the Global Media AIDS Initiative has contributed to the ‘Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS’ campaign. This global campaign launched in 2005 is aiming at drawing more attention to the plight of children affected or infected by HIV/AIDS. It promotes the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission; the access to antiretroviral therapy for HIV positive children; the prevention of infections among adolescents and young people and an enhanced support for children who are orphaned and left vulnerable by HIV/AIDS.

For more information, please contact:             
• Christine Jaulmes, Chief, Communication and Information Section.  UNICEF, Bangladesh, Tel: +880 2 9336701-10, Ext 209,  E-mail: cjaulmes@unicef.org       
• Rabeed Imam, Acting Media and Communications Manager, Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB): Cell phone: +880 171 3046531; E-mail:rimam@bcb-cricket.com
 
Note for the Editors

The commitment of the International Cricket Council (ICC) to fight HIV/ AIDS:
Since 2003, the ICC has been working with UNAIDS to address the issue of HIV/AIDS in cricket-playing countries and in 2006 UNICEF also joined the prominent partnership which supports the 'Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS' campaign.
In 2007 the ICC also began working with the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Global Media AIDS Initiative to deliver messages to a regional and global broadcast audience, working alongside the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership on HIV/AIDS and the African Broadcast Media Partnership Against HIV/AIDS.

A series of activities have been delivered at major events including the ICC Cricket World Cup and the ICC World Twenty20 2007. This has included leading stars visiting local community projects and players wearing red ribbons to show their support for people living with HIV/AIDS.
The ICC’s HIV/AIDS partnership with UNAIDS, UNICEF and the Global Media AIDS Initiative will be a focal part of the ICC’s centenary celebrations in 2009. Further details on these activities and how HIV/AIDS awareness activities will be delivered at the ICC World Twenty20 2009 and the ICC Champions Trophy 2009 is set to be announced in due course.
Website: www.catchthespirit.com

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
Website: www.unicef.org

 

 

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