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Alyssa Milano passes her first test for UNICEF

US Actress and star of ‘Charmed’ begins her first mission as a UNICEF Ambassador by being tested for HIV/AIDS and calling for a massive expansion of such services across Angola

© UNICEF Angola/James Elder
At the VCT clinic in Luanda, Milano had a HIV test, but said it was an opportunity available to far too few Angolans.

LUANDA, 10 May, 2004 – UNICEF National Ambassador Alyssa Milano today called on the developed world to get behind UNICEF’s HIV/AIDS work in Angola.

On the first day of her week-long visit to Angola, 31-year-old Milano met with young, HIV positive women, explored a Voluntary, Testing and Counseling (VCT) clinic in Luanda, and visited a Luandan hospital. At the VCT clinic Milano had a HIV test, but said it was an opportunity available to far too few Angolans.

“It is always god to have your health confirmed,” said Milano.  “This Voluntary, Counseling and Testing clinic is a great service – young people were not only being tested, but also given information on behavior change, so it’s a clear method of prevention.

“But there are just four VCT clinics in Luanda, servicing four million people. We urgently need to join forces to make these services universally accessible. When it comes to HIV/AIDS Angola stands at the crossroads: ignore the threat and numbers will rise; act now and this country can be a success story.”

Angola now faces a battle far larger than any faced during war time. The scourge of HIV/AIDs represents Angola’s single-greatest challenge to recovery. UNICEF is focusing on educating young people and providing services to support them.

“Today has been both deeply inspiring and disturbing,” said Milano of her first day with UNICEF and her first day in the sub-Saharan country. “I am moved by the spirit of Angolans and the work UNICEF is doing, but I am saddened by the hardships I have seen, and the fact that a little flexing of financial muscle from rich countries could do so much.”

Few countries have endured like Angola. Forty years of almost continuous war devastated basic health and education services, contributed to one of the world’s worst child mortality rates, crippled capacity and productivity, and destroyed the social and economic fabric of society. Millions of Angolan children are out of school, 45 percent suffer chronic malnutrition, and a quarter of children die before their fifth birthday.

And yet despite the enormity of the peacetime challenges now facing Government, UNICEF and the international community, Angola has the potential to enter a new phase of hope and renewal.

Tomorrow Alyssa Milano will fly to the war-ravaged central Angolan province, Huambo. There she will meet landmine victims, be taken into a live minefield, view the situation of health and nutrition, visit schools, and officially launch UNICEF’s Huambo Youth Centre.

Attention Broadcasters: B-roll on the trips will be available from Monday 17 May

For further information, or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Angola: James Elder Cell: + 244-91-219524, jelder@unicef.org




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