HIV :: Rupert Everett visits Russia as UN envoy on HIV/AIDS

Film star Rupert Everett, the actor who is a Special Representative of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), is on a four-day visit to Russia to learn what is being done to reverse the spread of the epidemic in a country where the number of those living with HIV is officially put at 386,000, but is widely believed to be up to 1.1 million.

“This trip is special to me – I want to help UNAIDS raise awareness about how HIV affects the most vulnerable groups in our society,” said Mr. Everett, known for several acclaimed films including “My Best Friend’s Wedding” and “Another Country.” “Often HIV is linked with other diseases such as TB and those affected are often discriminated against.”

Mr. Everett, who will visit specific AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) projects in St. Petersburg and Moscow, has for many years been active in AIDS response, but this is his first official trip with UNAIDS since being appointed a Special Representative on World AIDS Day last December. He will be accompanied by UNAIDS Regional Director Bertil Lindblad and Programme Coordinator Lisa Carty.

Mr. Lindblad underlined the importance of celebrity support in the AIDS response and in particular how Mr. Everett’s visit to Russia will help draw attention to the problems in the region. “People in the public eye like Rupert Everett can inspire and motivate others to unite against AIDS,” he said.

Worldwide more than 39.5 million people are estimated to be living with HIV. In 2006, 2.9 million people died of AIDS.

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