New Delhi, Nov 29 (IANS) Leading international cricket players will be sporting red ribbons in their upcoming matches to mark World AIDS Day (Dec 1) and to support those living with HIV, according to a release.
The initiative is a part of the Think Wise partnership - a joint partnership between the International Cricket Council (ICC), UNAIDS, Unicef and the Global Media AIDS Initiative since 2003. It aims to raise awareness around HIV prevention and eliminate discrimination against people living HIV and AIDS.
"Two 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 South African cricket captain Graeme Smith, a release here said.
"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 added.
Three one-day internationals - between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, India and New Zealand and Sri Lanka and West Indies as well as the opening day of the Ashes Test match between Australia and England will see players sporting the red ribbon.
Sri Lanka captain and Think Wise champion Kumar Sangakkara said: "Many people living with HIV live in cricket-playing countries. It is something that you cannot escape, no matter where we play."
"This lack of awareness is compounded by the discrimination that those living with HIV and AIDS undergo. 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, according to the release.
"The red ribbon that we wear symbolises our support for the cause to help those living 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."
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, an official said.