Cricket unites for people living with HIV on World AIDS Day
DUBAI, 29 November 2010 - International cricket will show its support for people living with HIV and AIDS this week with leading players wearing red ribbons on their playing shirts in international matches to help celebrate World AIDS Day as part of the Think Wise partnership.
Players and match officials will wear red ribbons in the ODI matches being played on 1 December (Wednesday) between Bangladesh-Zimbabwe, India-New Zealand and Sri Lanka-West Indies, as well as on the opening day of the Ashes Test match between Australia and England on 3 December (Friday). Further activities are also being held in South Africa.
In addition, Sri Lanka spinner Muttiah Muralidaran will travel to Papua New Guinea this week to help take part in a variety of education and fundraising activities promoting World AIDS Day.
Sri Lanka captain and Think Wise champion Kumar Sangakkara believes it is vital that cricketers show their support for the Think Wise initiative, a joint partnership between the ICC, UNAIDS, UNICEF and the Global Media AIDS Initiative that has been running since 2003.
The initiative aims to raise awareness around HIV prevention and eliminate discrimination against people living HIV and AIDS.
“It is very important because many people living with HIV live in cricket-playing countries. It is something that you cannot escape, no matter where we play and the lack of awareness and low sense of risk are some of the factors that contribute to high risk taking, making particularly young people in the 15-24 year age group vulnerable to infection,” said Sangakkara.
“This lack of awareness is compounded by the discrimination that those living with HIV and AIDS undergo. It is therefore important to create awareness to stop the spread of the virus while also curbing discrimination and as international cricketers we can help to achieve this objective.
Fighting AIDS by understanding
“The red ribbon that we wear symbolises our support for the cause to help those living with HIV and AIDS to live a full and productive life in society without giving up hope. It is a disease that we should fight by understanding how it spreads and encouraging people to talk about things like sexuality in their homes,” added the Sri Lanka captain.
A new UNAIDS report shows that the world is beginning to reverse the spread of HIV. New HIV infections have fallen by nearly 20% in the last 10 years, AIDS-related deaths are down by nearly 20% in the last five years, and the total number of people living with HIV is stabilising.
The report gives new evidence that investments in HIV prevention are producing significant results in many of the highest burden countries. Despite these gains, an estimated 2.6 million people became newly infected with HIV and 1.8 million people died from AIDS-related illnesses in 2009, and 33.3 million people were estimated to be living with HIV.
The focus for the Think Wise campaign for the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 will be ‘Get the Facts, Protect Yourself’. The campaign will encourage young people to be informed, take appropriate action to prevent HIV infection and stand together against stigma and discrimination often facing people living with HIV and AIDS.
Red ribbon for hope and support
Players will also wear red ribbons in important matches at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, including the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final.
South Africa skipper Graeme Smith, also a Think Wise champion, is delighted that that cricket will continue to show its public support for people living with HIV, particularly at the sport’s flagship event.
“You only have to look at the statistics to understand why I am passionate, as the captain of South Africa, to raise awareness about HIV.
“Two million people die of AIDS-related deaths each year and nearly three-quarters of them come from Sub-Saharan Africa. These are people who watch me play cricket on television, support me in the stadium and this makes it all seem very real to me,” said Smith.
“If I can use my position as international cricketer to deliver important social messages, such as encouraging young people to use protection and wear a condom, and reduce the number of new infections then it is something that I am happy to do.
“By wearing a red ribbon we are sending a message to the millions of fans across the world that you shouldn’t discriminate against people living with HIV,” he added...............................................................................................
NOTE TO EDITOR:
WORLD AIDS DAY 2010
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Indra Kumari Nadchatram