World AIDS Day
Test captains unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS
Wisden Cricinfo staff
November 30, 2004
The captains of nine Test-playing nations have released a joint statement in support of the fight against HIV/AIDS to coincide with World Aids today on December 1. No representative of West Indies could sign, following the dispute over contracts for the VB Series.
"HIV and AIDS is a global issue that cannot be ignored," reads the statement. "There are over 40 million people around the world living with HIV and AIDS. Over a third of these live in the ten countries that play Test match cricket. HIV and AIDS is everyone's problem and it is the responsibility of us all to do something about it.
"Our commitment is to address this epidemic by raising awareness and education levels in the cricket community. We urge young people to protect themselves from HIV and our leaders to pay more attention to the epidemic.When we step onto the cricket field we do so as rivals but in the battle against HIV and AIDS we are united. AIDS is a common enemy and we must fight it together."
The statement was signed by Ricky Ponting, Habibul Bashar, Michael Vaughan, Sourav Ganguly, Stephen Fleming, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Graeme Smith, Marvan Atapattu and Tatenda Taibu.
Ehsan Mani, the ICC's president, welcomed the support for HIV/AIDS: "I am delighted that the captains of all the Test playing nations have united in their support of the fight against HIV and AIDS," he said.
"The threat of HIV/AIDS is so real in many of the major cricketing nations that it is vital that these role models play a part in the global battle against this epidemic."
Dr Peter Piot, executive director of United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, also come forward to thank the cricketers for their collective stand: "Cricket players are leading the sports world in speaking out about AIDS boldly," he said. "The pledge taken by the cricket captains has opened a new front of leadership in the global effort to stop the AIDS epidemic."
The player and officials participating in international matches on Wednesday will wear red ribbons, which is a sign of solidarity with all those around the world having to cope with AIDS. The games taking place will be the fourth day of the second Test between Indian and South Africa at Kolkata and the second one-day international between Zimbabwe and England at Harare.
Smith and Vaughan both spoke out to offer their support. "This is a very important initiative which will help highlight the plight of those who suffer from HIV and AIDS" Vaughan said. Smith explained, "HIV and AIDS is a massive problem throughout the world, and in Africa it has reached alarming proportions. Be aware of HIV/AIDS, it is for real."
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