UN agencies in HIV/AIDS campaign during CWC
Guyana Chronicle
March 7, 2007

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THE International Cricket Council (ICC) will join with UNAIDS, United Nations Children’s FUND (UNICEF) and the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership (CBMP) on HIV/AIDS, during Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2007, to highlight the situation of children and young people living with and affected by the disease.

The joint venture for a global campaign was launched yesterday under the theme ‘Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS’.

The partners will promote the drive up to and during the cricket matches, which take place in the Caribbean from March 11 to April 28, through a series of high profile activities.

The partnership will project various messages related to HIV/AIDS, children and young people, including for prevention of the ailment and overcoming the attached stigma and discrimination, to an audience of two billion people.

At the inuguration in the VIP Lounge at the National Stadium, Providence, East Bank Demerara, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr. Frank Anthony acknowledged that cricket is popular in many of the countries that are impacted by AIDS.

He said, in the Caribbean where the CWC is being hosted, UNAIDS estimates that 250,000 people were living with the virus in 2006 and 15,000 of the victims were children aged up to 14 years old.

It was also estimated that, 1.1 per cent of young women and 0.5 per cent of young men between 15 and 24 years old were existing with HIV in the Caribbean, Anthony said.

He said about 27,000 people became newly infected in 2006 alone and the use of cricket to promote the initiative is welcome because HIV is a serious problem and the games would focus on it with messages conveyed by the players.

Anthony explained that the cricketers and officials from each team will wear the red and blue ribbon of the ‘Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS’ thrust during their first games and at the final.

He said players will also visit programmes supporting children and young people affected by HIV.

Anthony announced that a series of public service advertisements (PSAs), each of 30 seconds duration, have been produced and will be available to broadcasters free of charge.

He said the PSAs feature leading cricketers, including Australian Captain Ricky Ponting and his Indian counterpart, Rahul Dravid, speaking about how HIV affects children.

UNICEF Regional Advisor on HIV/AIDS, Mr. Geoffrey Ijumba, said the ads would carry messages reminding people watching the matches worldwide of the pandemic and focus especially on care, treatment and education.

He said the advertised messages will also advise on accessing information, condoms and other related things.

UNAIDS Country Coordinator, Dr. Kathleen Israel agreed that more than two billion television viewers are expected to watch the seven weeks long games which begin with an opening ceremony in Jamaica on March 11.

She said activities at the venues will draw attention to the issues facing children and young people affected by HIV/AIDS and highlight the resources and actions required to address them.

“The public, especially young people aged 15 and 24, will get information on the stigma and discrimination around HIV and how to protect themselves against the disease,” Israel said.

She said the partnership project is part of the ICC’s commitment to promoting the spirit of cricket and its positive impact on society.

Making brief remarks, too, were CWC Local Organising Committee (LOC) Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Karran Singh and UNICEF Communication Officer, Ms. Leslyn Thompson. (MICHEL OUTRIDGE)