Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)- National cricket idol Shakib Al Hasan on Monday joined an elite group of cricketers from across the world as he was announced the Think Wise campaign spokesperson for Bangladesh by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

The campaign aims at raising awareness about HIV and AIDs in order to make a positive impact on the lives of young people across the world and helps to prevent new HIV infections.

The announcement came at a press briefing held Monday afternoon at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in presence of ICC, Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB), UNICEF and UNAIDS officials.

“I feel privileged to be a part of the Think Wise campaign. I have always had a desire to support and assist social causes because as a sportsperson I know how far-reaching an impact we can make in addressing key issues like HIV and AIDS, especially in developing countries like Bangladesh,” said Shakib Al Hasan.

He also said that South Asia in particular is in danger of HIV and AIDS as the lack of awareness and general ignorance in the region is far greater than anywhere else.
“Because of the presence of HIV and AIDS in every continent, the game of cricket can be a very powerful force against social stigma, ignorance and discrimination – factors that contribute to increased vulnerability to HIV infection. The victims are usually very young. Today, I am joining the fight to save generations by inspiring them to think wise and to take the right decision,” said Shakib, who is currently the leading all-rounder in the Reliance Mobile ICC ODI Rankings.

The Think Wise initiative builds on a long-term partnership between the ICC, the joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), UNICEF and the Global Media AIDS Initiative (GMAI) that for more than seven years has reached out to the cricketing community to work together in responding to the global AIDS crisis.

The partnership seeks to educate cricket players, coaches, commentators, broadcasters, volunteers and spectators about the AIDS epidemic, particularly around prevention, and stigma issues as around 10 million people living with HIV are from Test-playing nations.

This number accounts for more than a quarter of all the people across the world that are HIV-positive and a sizeable portion of these people live in South Asia.

The other Think Wise champions working to make a positive impact on the lives of young people across the world and helping to prevent new HIV infections through using the power of cricket are Nathan Bracken from Australia, Isa Guha from England, Kumar Sangakkara from Sri Lanka, Graeme Smith from South Africa,Virender Sehwag from India, as well as Stafanie Taylorand Ramnaresh Sarwan from the West Indies.

BBN/SI/AD-30Nov10-1:14 am (BST)