AIDS campaign pitch with cricket language starts today

Guyana Chronicle
May 5, 2000

SCORES of Guyanese shoolboys will get to see the cricket test match at Bourda free of charge as they participate in bolstering the ongoing AIDS awarness campaign.

Cable and Wireless, sponsors of the game, has contributed some half a million dollars worth of tickets for the students who will use popular wave rags, score cards, flags, t-shirts and bandannas to promote messages warning against the dreaded disease.

The strategy for `Don't be bowled out by AIDS, bat with a condom' was unveiled Wednesday in the boardroom of the Ministry of Health, also in Georgetown.

A release said the popularity of the sport and the test starting today were seen as "an excellent opportunity" to promote safe sex, pitching with cricket language.

West Indies and Guyanese cricketers Reon King, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Colin Stuart have all endorsed the promotion and Cable and Wireless will also give US$100 to an AIDS charity for every six scored during the next five days in the rivalry with Pakistan.

Also collaborating with the Ministry of Health in the venture to address the escalating AIDS situation in Guyana is Guyana Cricket Board of Control.

Mr Vic Insanally, of Guyenterprise Advertising Agency, said the passes would be distributed over three days and afford entry into the Schoolboys' Stand where the beneficiaries would get free lunches for the duration.

Thousands of condoms are being made available at the ground for free giveaway, as well.

Stuart, who was present at the Wednesday launch, made a special appeal to other young Guyanese, particularly schoolchildren, to "stay away from sex" until they choose faithful life partners.

He encouraged youths to focus their energies in positive directions and build a bright future for themselves.

Health Minister Dr Henry Jeffrey said the objective at this time is to particularly target men.

"We believe that men can make a difference," he said, explaining that cricket is a male dominated sport which is watched by hundreds of thousands of them.

Jeffrey said the Campaign Committee feels this approach can bring forth excellent results.

Director of the National AIDS Programme, Dr Maxine Swain expressed concern that, of the 33 million people alive with the HIV infection, at least one third are young people aged between 10 and 24 years.

She said, every day, 7,000 young people worldwide contract the virus and it means that 2.6 million new infections annually are among them.

Overall, young people account for at least 50 per cent of those afflicted after infancy.

Swain said the National AIDS Programme Secretariat is making a special appeal to cricketers, spectators and all Guyanese to work towards reducing the spread of HIV, by taking on a personal project to keep themselves free of the infection.

While the committee feels "men can make a difference", Minister Jeffrey maintained that women, too, can play a great part in ensuring safe sex.

He said the drive would not end with the test series as the intention is to sustain the thrust for safe sex.

Ms Simone Hinds, another National AIDS Secretariat official said:"We are starting with the schoolboys and hope

that it ripples through the ground."