Dubai, Nov.25 : The International Cricket Council (ICC) will celebrate five years of raising awareness and reducing the stigma of HIV by running a series of activities to mark World AIDS Day on December 1.
Players taking part in major international matches will wear red ribbons, as a global show of support for people living with HIV, while the India and England teams will meet young people affected by HIV ahead of the seventh ODI in Delhi, an ICC statement said.
Since 2003, when it became the first international sports organisation to form a partnership with UNAIDS, the ICC has also worked with United Nations agencies and non-governmental organisations including UNICEF and the Global Media AIDS Initiative (GMAI), to deliver a variety of activities aimed at raising awareness of HIV/AIDS.
Highlights of the partnership have included such profile-raising initiatives as running public service announcements featuring some of the world's leading players including Graeme Smith, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahendra Singh Dhoni; player visits to schools and orphanages at ICC events; and an HIV-positive individual tossing the coin before the start of the Pakistan-India Test series in Rawalpindi in 2004.
Such was the level of support in 2007 at the ICC Cricket World Cup in the West Indies and ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa, 24 separate player visits to community projects took place, illustrating the enormous player support that the ICC's partnership on HIV/AIDS receives.
"The UNAIDS-ICC partnership is a good example of promoting social responsibility through sport," said Michel Sidibe, deputy executive director of UNAIDS.
"The game of cricket and its players have helped to raise awareness about HIV among young people and to break down barriers of stigma in many countries," he said.
ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat said: "The ICC is proud of the contribution that cricket has made in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the past five years. We were the first international sports organisation to form a partnership with UNAIDS and by working with it and other excellent partners such as UNICEF and the GMAI we believe that we have led the way for sporting communities to make a difference on HIV/AIDS."
"Women and children must be at the centre of the global response to AIDS," said Ann M Veneman, executive director of UNICEF.
"UNICEF and the International Cricket Council are uniting cricket fans, teams, players and sponsors to focus on the impact of HIV and AIDS on vulnerable populations."
Tina Hoff, vice-president and director of entertainment media partnerships at the Kaiser Family Foundation, which houses the GMAI Secretariat, said: "Through the Global Media AIDS Initiative's partnership with ICC, broadcasters around the world have been able to leverage the popular appeal of cricket to inform audiences about AIDS and fight HIV-related stigma.
"Media companies in the Caribbean, Africa and Asia have aired special cricket-themed public service ads, covered player visits to HIV/AIDS clinics and service organisations, and included special HIV/AIDS announcements during cricket matches - all in an effort to help motivate their audiences to take action in response to this global pandemic," she added.
The ICC's HIV/AIDS partnership with UNAIDS, UNICEF and the Global Media AIDS Initiative will be a focal part of the ICC's centenary celebrations in 2009. Further details on these activities and how HIV/AIDS-awareness activities will be delivered at the ICC World Twenty20 2009 and the ICC Champions Trophy 2009 will be announced in due course.