Indian cricketer, Virendra Sehwag during his interaction with the staff at Government H.S.I.S Gosha Hospital took keen interest in understanding the various stages involved in HIV testing.
By Vikas Verma
BANGALORE, India, 3 March, 2010 – Ahead of India’s crucial encounter with Ireland, which India had to win to stay in Word Cup Cricket competition, India’s premier batsman, Virendra Sehwag padded himself against a tougher opponent whose defeat is must for people living with HIV and AIDS.
This is the battle against stigma and discrimination faced by people living with HIV and AIDS.
Taking time out of his busy schedule, Sehwag met with people living with HIV at the Haji Sir Ismail Sait Ghosha hospital in Bangalore.
“It was a memorable experience to meet HIV positive mothers who have been able to give birth to children who are HIV negative. I was also happy to see HIV positive children leading a healthy and normal life just like any other child of their age,” said Sehwag.
The highlight of the programme was his lively interaction with seven HIV positive children in the age group of 8 to 12 yrs who were on Antiretroviral Therapy (Drugs to suppress the HIV virus and stop the progression of HIV disease).
Seeing the positive results of the programme first hand, Sehwag made a special appeal to people.
“Infections to children can be prevented if every pregnant woman goes for testing to the testing centres. I urge families, husbands, mothers in law and other members of the family to encourage pregnant women to go for testing. This can ensure that children survive and thrive,” said Sehwag
The gesture came as part of 'Think Wise campaign', which aims to create awareness among the young people, take appropriate action to prevent HIV infection and stand together against the stigma and discrimination often faced by people living with HIV.
Sehwag is one of the leading players supporting the campaign, a partnership between the ICC, UNAIDS and UNICEF and he believes cricketers are in a position to make a difference.
Fondly called ‘Viru’ by teammates and Indian public, Sehwag came straight from his practice session in his Indian team colors and was greeted by the Government H.S.I.S Gosha Hospital team lead by Dr. Rama Devi, Superintendent of the Hospital and KSAPS representatives. During his interaction at the hospital, Sehwag took keen interest in understanding the various stages that are involved in HIV testing.
India is committed to eliminating new HIV infections in children. To see this vision implemented on the ground, the focus will be on providing equitable services to all pregnant women.