Taking time off from silver screen, action hero Jackie Chan fights AIDS for UN
Taking time off from battling fictitious villains, action film superstar and United Nations ambassador Jackie Chan wrapped up a visit today to Viet Nam, joining in the real-life fight against AIDS and sending a powerful message that more must be done both for prevention and advocacy.
“I may be a movie hero, but the real heroes are the people I’ve met in Viet Nam, among them grandparents, mothers and wives, and many young people and children, who are showing real courage in dealing with living with HIV/AIDS and who just be supported much more,” said the star of such films as Rush Hour and Rumble in the Bronx.
During his three-day visit, Mr. Chan, a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), travelled to Quang Ninh province, north-east of Hanoi, which has the highest HIV prevalence in the country. There he heard how stigma and discrimination continue to inflict pain and alienation and also hamper efforts to stop the spread of the disease.
An estimated 215,000 people in Viet Nam are already infected with HIV/AIDS and every day from 40 to 120 people, the majority of them under the age of 29, are being infected.
With many people continuing to associate HIV with negative stereotypes of drug addicts, prostitutes and “bad behaviour,” Mr. Chan’s visit sent a powerful message that no one is immune from the disease and more must be done to foster care and support with communities and society at large, the UN agencies said.
“Jackie Chan’s visit has been enormously popular,” UNICEF’s Anne Attard declared. “Clearly he is an important role model for young and old alike, and his visit has done much to accelerate Viet Nam’s fight to help combat the disease. It is important that we build from Jackie Chan’s visit to continue to strengthen our prevention and advocacy efforts.”
Before coming to Viet Nam, Mr. Chan visited neighbouring Cambodia, also in his role as Goodwill Ambassador, to focus worldwide attention on the lurking danger of millions of buried landmines from three decades of war.
While deaths from mines and unexploded ordnance have fallen substantially in recent years, they still pose a daily threat to children and families. Between 2000 and 2004 over 4,000 people were killed or injured, 25 per cent of them children under 18, many of whom had found and played with the objects. There are an estimated 4 million to 6 million landmines still buried in Cambodia.