Mohali: The West Indies players on Wednesday took some time out from their training schedule in order to interact with HIV-affected people who had come from various parts of Punjab.
West Indies captain Darren Sammy along with teammates Ramnaresh Sarwan, Chris Gayle Kemar Roach, Andre Russel and other teammates took time out to support the UN AIDS, Unicef and ICC`s "Think Wise campaign". The interactive session is an ICC initiative to spread awareness about the disease.
Taking time out from their busy practice session at the Punjab Cricket Association stadium here, the players met 10 adults who are living with HIV, to understand what it means to be living with the disease and to broaden their understanding of the issues, an ICC press release stated.
Sarwan, an Ambassador for the Think Wise campaign, said, "It was interesting to have the opportunity to meet people living with HIV and understand some of the issues that they face on a day-to-day basis," said Sarwan.
"What became very clear to me during the interaction was that people affected by the disease are no different to anybody else and that they must not be discriminated against," he said.
He said that it was important that people affected by the HIV were not discriminated against by the society. "It`s important that we do not discriminate against anyone. They were in pretty jovial mood when I met them," he said.
Sammy said that `The Think Wise` partnership is well placed to impact on attitudes towards HIV.
"The West Indies team, through the Think Wise partnership, have always tried to support HIV awareness. Cricketers are well known for wearing the red ribbons on our playing shirts at matches at ICC events as a show of support for people living with HIV. To be able to meet people living with HIV and understand the discrimination they face in day-to-day life was very moving," he said.
"Hopefully, we can ensure that the Think Wise campaign not only eliminates stigma and discrimination against people living from HIV, but also encourages young people to be empowered to protect themselves from HIV," Sammy added.
Gayle was encouraging those present saying "Shabash, Shabash."
The team also played a friendly match with the HIV affected people and all of them were delighted to have spent time with the stars.
" ’The Think Wise’ campaign encourages young people to be informed, take appropriate action to prevent HIV infection, and stand together against the stigma and discrimination often facing people living with HIV," UNAIDS Programme officer, Upahar Pramanik said.