Cricket unites on World Aids Day: Players to wear red ribbons in international matches

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Cricket unites on World Aids Day: Players to wear red ribbons in international matches

30 November 2010

Kumar Sangakkara taking part in community visits to support the Think Wise partnership during the ICC World Twenty20 2010 earlier this year in West Indies. Credit: ICC

International cricket will mark World AIDS Day and show its support for people living with HIV this week. Players will wear red ribbons on their shirts during international matches.

On 1 December 2010 players and match officials will wear red ribbons in the One-Day International matches between Bangladesh-Zimbabwe, India-New Zealand and Sri Lanka-West Indies; as well as on the opening day of the Ashes Test Match between Australia and England on 3 December. There will also be activities taking place at South Africa’s domestic matches to show support for people living with HIV.

Sri Lanka captain and Think Wise champion Kumar Sangakkara believes it is vital that cricketers show their support for the Think Wise initiative, a joint partnership between the ICC, UNAIDS, UNICEF and the Global Media AIDS Initiative. The campaign to raise awareness around HIV prevention and reduce discrimination towards people living with HIV has been running since 2003.

“It is very important because many of the people living with HIV across the world live in cricket-playing countries. It is something that you cannot escape no matter where we play,” said Sangakkara.

Lack of awareness about HIV is compounded by the discrimination that people living with HIV face. It is therefore important to create awareness to stop the spread of the virus while also curbing discrimination, and as international cricketers, we can help to achieve this objective

Kumar Sangakkara , Sri Lanka captain and Think Wise champion

“Lack of awareness about HIV is compounded by the discrimination that people living with HIV face. It is therefore important to create awareness to stop the spread of the virus while also curbing discrimination, and as international cricketers, we can help to achieve this objective,” he said.

The UNAIDS Global Report gives new evidence that investments in HIV prevention are producing significant results in many of the highest burden countries. Despite these gains, an estimated 2.6 million people became newly infected with HIV and 1.8 million people died from AIDS-related illnesses in 2009, and 33.3 million people were estimated to be living with HIV.

“The red ribbon that we wear symbolizes our support for the cause to help those with HIV and AIDS to live a full and productive life in society without giving up hope. It is a disease that we should fight by understanding how it spreads and encouraging people to talk about things like sexuality in their homes,” said Sangakkara.

ICC Cricket World Cup 2011

Players will also wear red ribbons in important matches at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, including the quarter-final, semi-final and final matches. South Africa’s skipper Graeme Smith, also a Think Wise champion, is delighted that that cricket will continue to show its public support for people living with HIV, particularly at the sport’s flagship event.

“You only have to look at the statistics to understand why I am passionate, as the captain of South Africa, to make a difference to HIV awareness. 1.8 million people die of AIDS-related deaths each year and nearly three-quarters of them come from Sub-Saharan Africa. These are people who watch me play cricket on television, support me in the stadium and this makes it all seem very real to me,” said Graeme Smith.

“If I can use my position as international cricketer to deliver important social messages, such as encouraging young people to use protection and wear a condom, and reduce the number of new infections then it is something that I am happy to do. By wearing a red ribbon we are sending a message to the millions of fans across the world that you shouldn’t discriminate against people living with HIV,” he concluded.