Cricket champions bat for HIV prevention at ICC Cricket World Cup 2015

ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 Ambassador Kumar Sangakkara asks fans to support #THINK WISE campaign

The International Cricket Council (ICC) today launched a new edition of its HIV awareness campaign, THINK WISE in partnership with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). During the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 in Australia and New Zealand, cricket stars will unite to support the initiative, which has been active since 2003.

The campaign’s focus is preventing stigma and discrimination towards people living with HIV, as well as encouraging greater awareness about HIV prevention.

ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 Ambassador and Sri Lanka’s batting legend, Kumar Sangakkara is a part of the campaign, and has expressed his support via a public service announcement.

“In cricket and in life I believe in zero discrimination,” said Mr Sangakkara. “Discriminating against anybody, including people living with HIV is always out of bounds. Let’s change the score and bat for respect and dignity.”

During the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, 13 matches will be dedicated to the THINK WISE campaign, including the final which will be played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on 29 March 2015.  Umpires will be seen supporting THINK WISE on their sleeve throughout the event and Mr Sangakkara’s message will play on the giant stadium screens in all 13 matches dedicated to THINK WISE. Players and officials in the final match will wear red ribbon stickers showing solidarity with people living with HIV and AIDS.

On 5 March, the South African cricket team will be coaching and mentoring young people in Auckland, New Zealand. Cricket fans are encouraged to participate and show their support by taking photographs at the event and sharing them on social media using the hashtag #THINKWISE.

“Cricket is a passion which unites countries and continents, people and players. The THINK WISE campaign is powerful. Cricket can mobilize millions of people to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. By supporting young people as leaders, promoting HIV prevention and zero discrimination the campaign saves lives and gives dignity to all,” said Steve Kraus, Director, Regional Support Team for Asia and the Pacific, UNAIDS.

Young people are particularly vulnerable to HIV. AIDS is the second leading cause of adolescent deaths worldwide. The Asia and Pacific region is home to over a billion young people, and in 2013, an estimated 610,000 young people, aged 15-24 were living with HIV, accounting for 13% of all people living with HIV in the region. Discrimination threatens the health, dignity and security of people living with and vulnerable to HIV. In Asia and the Pacific, 10 countries, territories and areas criminalize transmission of HIV and 10 countries, territories and areas have HIV-related travel restrictions.

“Stigma and discrimination isolate too many young people affected by HIV from the prevention and treatment services that could save their lives. The THINK WISE campaign aims to tear down these barriers,” said UNICEF South Asia Regional Director Karin Hulshof. “When every cricket fan in this region speaks out about HIV, there will be more than one billion voices silencing stigma and discrimination, propelling us toward achieving an AIDS-free generation.”

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