India's cricket stars call for an end to HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination
Bangalore, 22 March 2005: The Indian cricket team took time off from their test match series, to lend their voice to the fight against the discrimination and social stigma faced by India’s millions of HIV/AIDS patients and their families. By speaking out, the cricketers joined the growing ranks of groups determined to break the silence surrounding this traditionally taboo subject. India has the second largest number of people in the world living, with HIV/AIDS, with 5.1 million cases reported since 1984.
The event, organised by UNICEF and the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), addressed the urgent need to highlight the growing impact of HIV/AIDS on the lives of children, whose very survival and development is at stake.
Amongst those present were the Director General of NACO Dr. S.Y. Quraishi and UNICEF Communication Chief, Corinne Woods. Well known Indian cricketers Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble and Virendra Sehwas were also present. Members from the Positive Women's Network in Bangalore were especially invited by UNICEF to share their experiences. Asha, whose husband is HIV-positive, recounted her experiences and the discrimination she and her family have faced from society and friends – in addition to the trauma of coping with the news of the infection. Reacting to her story, Tendulkar said "People with HIV are a part of us. This discrimination has got to stop."
In a touching gesture of solidarity Asha and other HIV positive women tied red ribbon rakhis around the wrists of players and other attendees signifying the bond of protection.