Dubai, Dec.1 (ANI): Some of the world's best-known cricketers have called for the international cricket community to continue to support calls for greater awareness to help continue the fight against HIV.
Nathan Bracken, Isa Guha, Kumar Sangakkara, Graeme Smith and Virender Sehwag are championing the "Think Wise" campaign, which helps to raise awareness about HIV amongst the cricket community to make a positive impact on the lives of young people across the world, and help to prevent new HIV infections.
Sangakkara said: "What cricket does well is bring people together in common spirit. We are doing our bit on World AIDS Day to help raise awareness, reduce discrimination and ultimately help to prevent HIV infections.
"It is fantastic to see cricket being used as a force for social good and I hope the "Think Wise" initiative will continue to gather momentum throughout the cricket community."
Smith said: "I've seen firsthand the devastating effect that HIV as had in my country. It is now a global issue and one which everyone has responsibility to address.
"I hope that current and former cricketers around the world at every level of the game act as leaders within their communities to think about important life skills and necessary steps toward HIV prevention."
Around 10 million people living with HIV are from Test-playing countries.
This accounts for more than a quarter of all the people across the world that are HIV-positive.
At major international matches (listed below) around World AIDS Day players will be wearing red ribbons as a show of support for people living with HIV and the THINK WISE public service announcements will be played on big screens by host venues and broadcasters, an ICC press release said.
Bracken said: "It is fantastic to see my team mates and other international teams around the world wearing the red ribbon in show of support for people living with HIV.
"Everyone has a right to be treated fairly and that includes people living with HIV. By raising awareness and addressing the stigma sometimes associated with HIV we all hope that young people protect themselves against the virus."
Isa Guha of the England women's cricket team said: "HIV is not just someone else's problem; we all have a role to play in helping to raise awareness and encourage prevention.
"I hope that the "Think Wise" campaign can help youngsters to make informed decisions as they grow up. I also hope that as the profile of the women's game rises we can act as role models and have a positive impact on the lives on young women."
Sehwag said: "Cricketers use protection when playing the game and it's the same in life as well.
Everyone should take the necessary steps to protect themselves from HIV. Through my work with "Think Wise", I hope we can take this message further to help reduce HIV infection levels across the world."
The "Think Wise" initiative builds on a long-term partnership between the ICC, the joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), UNICEF and the Global Media AIDS Initiative (GMAI) that for more than six years has reached out to the cricketing community to work together to respond to global AIDS crisis.
This partnership aims to:
Raise awareness about the AIDS epidemic within the cricket community
Address stigma and discrimination surrounding the disease and experienced by people living with and affected by HIV
Encourage informed decision making and safe behaviours to continue to prevent new infections through targeted information and outreach.
The ICC has been working with UNAIDS since 2003 to respond to HIV in cricket-playing countries. (ANI)