Chess champion and grandmaster Vishwanathan Anand will now champion the cause of HIV/AIDS for 'Avahan', the Indian chapter of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. //
Anand will work towards increasing the awareness about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in India for Avahan's public education campaigns. He is already well known and respected among the youth in India and this new role is likely to help the campaign against AIDS to be pushed up a few notches in the country.
Anand is considered a youth icon as he has brought glory to India in a field dominated by Russians. He is undoubtedly a celebrated international sports figure.
Avahan is a 200-million dollar HIV prevention initiative for India that has been created by the Foundation led by Bill Gates and his wife Melinda Gates.
Avahan’s programme will initially work on six high HIV/AIDS prevalence states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Manipur and Nagaland, and also at the key halt points along 8,000km of national highways.
A release from the foundation said that besides raising awareness, Anand would also focus on mobilizing the much-needed engagement by business, industry and non-resident Indians on HIV/AIDS..
"It is imperative for all sections of the society to join hands and work together to contain the epidemic," Anand said.
"We hope to create significant understanding and compassion through our campaigns as we concentrate on removing the stigma attached to the disease and are able to bring a message of urgency and promise to the people," he said.
Anand is a native of Tamil Nadu but currently a non-resident Indian will perhaps need to spend more time in India if he really wants to make a difference and work towards reducing the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV.
His own state of Tamil Nadu is hit the hardest. Only time will tell how much this champion can do for the cause.
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