Unite for Children: Unite against AIDS” is intended to redirect policymaking, investment and research towards children affected by the pandemic
Kolkata, 24 November, 2005: Indian captain Rahul Dravid and his South African counterpart Graeme Smith took time off the field today to express support for children affected by HIV/AIDS.
Convened by UNICEF with UNAIDS, and involving partners from every sector of the international community, “Unite for Children: Unite against AIDS” is intended to redirect policymaking, investment and research towards children affected by the pandemic. The campaign was launched in India by President APJ Abdul Kalam on 25 October, and simultaneously in New York by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, UNAIDS chief Peter Piot, and UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman.
The two captains – from the two countries with the largest numbers of HIV-positive people in the world – joined a growing number of leading politicians, private corporations and celebrities who have lent their voices and support to the Global Campaign on Children with HIV/AIDS.
Victory over AIDS requires teamwork and leadership
“I am signing onto the AIDS campaign because I know what’s required to beat back AIDS is the kind of teamwork that is needed to overcome our biggest challenges,” Dravid said. “Victory over AIDS – not simply the disease itself, but its impact on families, and communities – requires teamwork and leadership – beginning with the family and community, to social workers, politicians, religious leaders, Bollywood stars, and media professionals. I’m signing on because I believe the only kind of team that can win is the one that all of us are on.”
Graeme Smith, Captain South African Cricket Team, Cecilio Adorna, UNICEF India’s Representative, and Rahul Dravid, Captain Indian Cricket Team lend support to “Unite for Children: Unite against AIDS”
Children who met with Dravid and Smith talked of HIV and its impact on their lives. They tied a ‘Suraksha Bandhan’ on their wrists as a gesture that enlists their commitment to working to protect and support children affected by, or living with HIV/AIDS. The two captains also signed a pledge of support.
India has 5.134 million of the estimated 40.3 million people living with HIV and AIDS worldwide. Approximately 220,000 of the infected in India are children.
According to the latest UNAIDS epidemic update, India has 5.134 million of the estimated 40.3 million people living with HIV and AIDS worldwide. A previous study also concludes that approximately 220,000 of the infected in India are children. In fact, the incidence of parent-to-child transmission of HIV- accounting for the vast majority of infections among children- jumped from 2.7% to 3.5% in just one year. Women account for a growing proportion of new infections- 38% in 2004. Furthermore almost half of all new infections are among young people between ages 15 and 24, with young women most likely to become infected
The campaign aims to achieve measurable results in four key areas: preventing parent-to-child transmission of HIV; providing paediatric treatment to HIV-positive children; preventing HIV infection among young people; and providing treatment, care and support for children affected by the disease.
Shri Surjya Kanta Mishra, Minister of Health and Family Welfare and Sri Ravi Shastri, former Indian cricketer and Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF; and Cecilio Adorna, UNICEF India’s Representative, were also present.