CWC 2007 to shine spotlight on children, youths affected by HIV
- Prevention Campaign to premiere before audience of two billion
By Melanie Allicock
Kaieteur News
March 7, 2007

Related Links: Articles on CWC 2007
Letters Menu Archival Menu

In an innovative and unprecedented move, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has teamed up with mega international health and media organisations to highlight the situation of children and young people living with and affected by HIV during the upcoming Cricket World Cup (CWC).

A regional initiative which will be undertaken in all of the host countries, the project aims at capitalising on the attention of the 2.2 billion viewers that are expected to tune in for the seven-week-long tournament throughout the Caribbean which begins with an official ceremony in Jamaica on Sunday.

At the press conference called yesterday to launch the ground breaking plan under the theme “Unite for children, Unite against AIDS”, acting Country Coordinator of UNAIDS Dr Kathleen Israel, UNICEF Communications Officer Leslyn Thompson, Minister of Culture, Youth & Sport, Dr. Frank Anthony, Chief Executive Officer of the Local Organising Committee, Karan Singh, and UNICEF Regional Advisor on HIV/AIDS Geoffrey Ijumba updated the media on the specifics of the initiative.

Dr. Israel informed that activities at the event will draw attention to issues facing children and young people affected by the virus and highlight the resources and actions required to address them.

The public -especially young people aged 15-24 years - will get information on the stigma and discrimination surrounding HIV and how to protect themselves against the virus.

This is against the backdrop of recent surveys which indicate that the greatest hurdle in the fight against the pandemic continues to be stigma and discrimination.

Dr. Israel noted that one anticipated local spin-off of the initiative is that it will increase the level of voluntary testing.

Meanwhile, Thompson noted that through high profile activities around cricket's biggest event, the ICC will support the ‘Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS' campaign launched in 2005 by UNICEF,UNAIDS and other partners.

A series of public service announcements (PSA's) have been produced, each lasting 30 seconds, which will be available to broadcasters free of charge.

The PSA's feature leading players, including Australian captain Ricky Ponting and Rahul David of India, speaking about how HIVaffects children.

Players and officials from each team will wear red and blue ribbons of the ‘Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS' campaign during their first games as well as the final.

Players will also visit programmes supporting children and young people affected by HIV.

In noting the effectiveness of this plan, Thompson pointed out that many of the viewers will be youths for whom the cricketers are role models.

Minister Anthony explained that the project promotes four key areas; prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV; increased access to antiretroviral therapy for children and young people who need treatment; education programmes to help prevent HIV transmission and increased support for children who are orphaned and left vulnerable by AIDS.

The ICC is also being supported in this effort by the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership on HIV/AIDS (CBMP), a coalition of over 50 broadcasters in 23 Caribbean countries and territories.

The CBMP's new regional media campaign “Live Up”, aims to inspire the people of the Caribbean , especially youth, to consider what they can do to stem the flow of HIV.

The CBMP is producing a series of televised PSA's as part of an ongoing media campaign, targeting young people. This will make its debut through Caribbean broadcasters during the event.

The spots encourage young people to take action to prevent HIV infection, including talking openly with parents, teachers and friends about the disease, being informed, using protection and getting tested. Viewers will also be encouraged to visit a new website providing information, local resources and the stories of people affected by HIV.

Cricket is popular in many of the countries that are most impacted by AIDS, including India and South Africa . Together these two countries are home to around 11 million of the 40 million people estimated to be living with HIV.

In the Caribbean UNAIDS estimates that 250,000 people were living with HIV in 2006, 15,000 of which were children aged 0-14 years. It was also estimated that in 2006, 1.1% of young women and 0.5% of young men aged 15-24 were living with HIV in the Caribbean and that around 27,000 people became newly infected with the virus in 2006 alone.

Commenting on the initiative, UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Pilot noted that, “young people today have never known a world without AIDS. Sports stars such as top cricket players can act as role models for today's young generation and reach out to them on AIDS issues…Sport is a force for change that can break down barriers, build self-esteem and teach life skills and social behaviour. By highlighting AIDS issues, the ICC Cricket World Cup and its cricketing stars are showing exactly the kind of exceptional response needed for the exceptional challenge of AIDS”.

It was noted that the partnership is part of the ICC's commitment to promoting the spirit of cricket and its positive impact on society.