Actor Ralph Fiennes Moved By India’s AIDS Crisis
First Published: January 31, 2007 8:55 PM EST Credit: AP
-- MUMBAI, India (January 31, 2007) — Ralph Fiennes, who’s spent the last five days traveling to villages in western India as a UNICEF ambassador, said Wednesday that he was moved by the spirit of India’s HIV-infected rural populace in the face of social ostracism.
“What has moved me is not the tragedy or the shadow over these people, but the strength it brings out in them,” he said about meeting with people who had been thrown out by their families once they learned they were HIV positive.
With 5.7 million infections, India has the world’s largest number of people living with HIV and AIDS. Despite growing awareness about HIV/AIDS and government assurances of free drugs, social stigma remains common.
People living with HIV are often denied treatment in hospitals, many are shunned by the communities they live in and their children are prevented from going to school.
The 44-year-old actor, who received Oscar nominations for his performances in 1993’s “Schindler’s List” and 1996’s “The English Patient” and whose other credits include the recent “Harry Potter” films, said the resilience of children who had lost one or both parents to AIDS was remarkable.
“Education, awareness and prevention are the key, but stigmatization and exclusion from family is what makes people suffer most,” he said.
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