Shabana, Jayasuriya Saarc goodwill ambassadors against AIDS

June 14th, 2008 - 8:55 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 14 (IANS) Indian actor Shabana Azmi and Sri Lankan cricketer Sanath Jayasuriya have been appointed South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) goodwill ambassadors for HIV/AIDS programmes. Azmi’s name was recommended by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), India’s apex body working to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS, the commerce and industry ministry said Saturday.

The title will be conferred on the two during the 15th Saarc Summit to be held in Colombo Aug 2-3.

NACO, an autonomous body under the health and family welfare ministry, has already congratulated the actor for being selected by the regional grouping and agreeing to contribute in the fight against the deadly disease.

India is home to at least 2.5 million HIV/AIDS patients and ranks number three in terms of disease prevalence.

Azmi and Jayasuriya will contribute towards curtailing the HIV burden in the region and address the issues of stigma and discrimination. They will work to create greater awareness through mass media and public appearances.

They will also advocate for affordable treatment, care and support for people living with HIV/AIDS and facilitate fund raising from within and outside the region.

Authorities said Azmi, as an eminent social activist and renowned film actor, “will contribute significantly towards strengthening the prevention programmes to gain momentum and visibility in the region”.

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