Basketball Greats Yao Ming and Magic Johnson Break New Ground on HIV/AIDS Awareness in China

2004 November 30  |  Business Wire (New York)
-- Public Service Announcements to Be Televised in China and Around the World in Conjunction with World AIDS Day, December 1--
The National Basketball Association and television partners in the United States, China and worldwide, will air a series of public service announcements in support of World AIDS Day, Wednesday, December 1, and throughout the NBA season, featuring Houston Rockets' Yao Ming and Basketball Hall of Famer Earvin "Magic" Johnson promoting HIV/AIDS awareness in China. The Chinese AIDS Initiative (CAI), an alliance of Chinese and international partners dedicated to helping China accelerate its response to HIV/AIDS, and the NBA jointly debuted the PSAs throughout China on October 14, in conjunction with the first-ever NBA China Games.
Yao Ming is a hero both in his native China and in the United States, where he is an All-Star center for the Houston Rockets. Magic Johnson, a former L.A. Lakers superstar, disclosed his own HIV-positive status in 1991 and has worked to raise AIDS awareness on a worldwide basis ever since.
The 30-, 45- and 60-second PSAs are designed to help educate Chinese citizens about HIV/AIDS prevention and dispel common misconceptions about how the disease is transmitted. In the English and Chinese language ads, Yao and Magic play basketball together, embrace and share a meal -- each an important visual confirmation that HIV/AIDS is not transmitted casually. Viewers are then encouraged to visit www.aids333.com, a Chinese-language AIDS information website.
"China is taking action to address HIV/AIDS, but the epidemic there is still growing rapidly," noted Dr. David Ho, Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, the principal organizer of the Chinese AIDS Initiative. "Today, there is a small window of opportunity to change the course of this epidemic in the world's most populous nation. Education, especially for young people, is key to slowing this epidemic in China."
"Yao Ming and Magic Johnson are internationally known and admired," noted NBA Senior Vice President of Community Relations Kathy Behrens. "Both men generously agreed to join us in this effort to utilize the popularity of NBA basketball in China and deliver a lifesaving message: that HIV can be stopped if everyone learns the facts about preventing the disease, and that people with HIV deserve support, compassion and care."
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) estimates that 10-20 million Chinese will be infected with HIV by the year 2010 unless immediate action is taken to prevent the disease's spread.
The Chinese AIDS Initiative has been involved in several high-profile advocacy and public awareness events in China. In November 2003, CAI organized the Tsinghua Summit on HIV/AIDS with former U.S. President Bill Clinton, the first international meeting of senior Chinese officials in developing a high-level national response to the epidemic. Shortly thereafter, on December 1, 2003, Chinese leaders including Premier Wen Jiabao publicly commemorated World AIDS Day by embracing people living with HIV/AIDS, a substantial step forward in the government's recognition of and response to the growing Chinese epidemic.

About the China AIDS Initiative

Established in 2003, the China AIDS Initiative is a partnership between the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, William J. Clinton Foundation, Tsinghua University, Yale-China Association, Harvard University, The China AIDS Media Project, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences (CAMS), Chinese Ministry of Health, Wuhan University, Chi Heng Foundation, provincial bureaus of health, a network of NGOs and other partners. The Initiative employs a comprehensive approach to HIV/AIDS prevention, advocacy, education and treatment in China.
Today, CAI is playing an increasingly important role in galvanizing China's new leaders to prioritize AIDS by encouraging policy reform to reduce discrimination, developing campaigns to educate vulnerable populations and advocating greater public investment. For more information on the CAI, visit www.chinaaidsinitiative.org

About the National Basketball Association

Since its founding in 1946, the NBA has truly become a global phenomenon that transcends national boundaries. With 30 teams in the United States and Canada, NBA games and related programming are broadcast to 214 countries in 43 languages; they are one of the largest suppliers of sports television and Internet programming in the world. The NBA is a recognized leader in global sports marketing with 13 offices around the world. For more information on the NBA, visit NBA.com/china or NBA.com.
National Basketball Association Kathleen Behrens, 212-407-8127 E-Mail: kbehrens@nba.com
(c) 2004 Business Wire. All Rights Reserved.