South African singer and Guyanese cricketer join UN efforts against AIDS pandemic

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28 April 2010Grammy award-winning musician Lebo M and West Indian cricketer Ramnaresh Sarwan are the latest personalities from the entertainment and sports worlds to join United Nations efforts against HIV/AIDS, lending their talents and public profiles to boost awareness about the disease. Lebo M, a South African producer, composer and singer whose real name is Lebohang Morake, was on Monday named UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador, allowing him to use his music, outreach and understanding of HIV to raise awareness about the epidemic globally, including helping to break the cycle of stigma and discrimination associated with the virus.In conjunction with the International Cricket Council (ICC), Mr. Sarwan of Guyana was unveiled on the same day as a new Think Wise Champion, part of a global cricket partnership to raise HIV awareness.He joins high-profile cricketers Graeme Smith, Kumar Sangakkara and Virender Sehwag, as well as his female West Indian colleague Stafanie Taylor, in becoming a Champion for the ICC’s partnership with UNAIDS, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Global Media AIDS Initiative.The global partners are also working with the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership on HIV/AIDS as part of the “Live UP” campaign to coincide with the cricket tournament ICC World Twenty20 2010, which begins on Friday and runs through 16 May. The initiative encourages youth in the region to take positive action by informing themselves about the facts about HIV, getting tested and protecting themselves.Lebo M is a long-time HIV advocate and founder of the Lebo M Foundation, which focuses on HIV as well as child welfare and housing issues in South Africa.“I have always dreamt big and that has carried me from smoky township nightclubs to Los Angeles. Since my dreams have come true, I want to make sure that other children grow up and reach for the skies. The AIDS epidemic must be stopped and prevented from cutting short lives,” he said.Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, said: “With his outsized talent, Lebo M has dazzled the world stage. Now he will use his rich and resonant voice to speak up for people living with HIV. Lebo M moves audiences with his music and his insatiable spirit will not rest until AIDS is overcome.”Lebo M was a co-composer and member of the core creative team for the movie and Broadway production of The Lion King. He is the founder of the Johannesburg-based company Till Dawn Entertainment, which co-produced and staged The Lion King in South Africa. He is currently working with the 2010 soccer World Cup in South Africa to co-produce the opening and closing ceremonies.

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