Bollywood actor Preity Zinta is all set to don a new hat. She has been officially appointed goodwill ambassador of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS in India.
As UNAIDS ambassador, the film star will promote public awareness on HIV prevention, treatment, care and support with emphasis on women, children and the oppressed. To begin with, she will travel to the rural areas of Punjab to create awarenes on how to keep the disease at bay.
“I will be the voice for the voiceless. We need transformation in the minds of people. All human beings, wherever we are, have the basic right to be happy and healthy. I see my appointment as a great opportunity to bring the realities faced by people living with HIV to the forefront and to call attention to the injustices faced by them. By putting people first, our priorities are clear, and with many hands what is difficult becomes easy and what is impossible becomes possible,” said the actor after signing a letter confirming her acceptance of the new appointment at the United Nations office here on Thursday.
Preity said she would combat the stigma and discrimination faced by people living with HIV through her universal appeal and her IPL team Kings XI Punjab. “In our next match, a person living with HIV will toss the coin. This is to send across an important message that we shouldn't discriminate against people living with HIV.”
UNAIDS country coordinator Charles Gilks said: “Goodwill ambassadors are celebrities with a demonstrated commitment to improve the lives of people living with HIV. Highly talented in their own right, they all share an ability to bring issues to global attention, to galvanise support from the public and leading decision-makers and to raise urgently needed support and attention for vital U.N. programmes.”
Stating that Preity had the determination to make a difference, Dr. Gilks said: “I know that she will be a strong and eloquent advocate for an enhanced national AIDS response. I am also confident that the unique presence and passion that she brings to this issue will remind concerned citizens across the subcontinent of the urgent need for serious and sustained action in the global fight against AIDS and the vital role of the U.N. in this effort.”
Sharing her experience of battling the deadly disease and working for people living with HIV infected people, Indian Network for People Living with HIV/AIDS president Jahnabi Goswami said: “I come from a small village in Assam and have been living with HIV for the past 16 years. I have faced a lot of discrimination at health care centres and even at home. My mother has been a pillar of strength. So many people are dying of this disease and we must do something urgently to stop its spread.”