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Preity’s HIV concern

hollywood Updated: Oct 20, 2010 19:43 IST
Roshmila Bhattacharya
Roshmila Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times
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Early this year, Cherie Blair, wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and president of The Loomba Trust, announced Priety Zinta as their brand ambassador. The Trust works towards empowering disadvantaged widows. The actor empathises with their problems firsthand, having lost her father at only 15.

“Unfortunately, in our country, particularly in the villages, women are still treated as second-class citizens and subjected to horrific rapes and murder,” she says, adding she was elated that Bangalore cabbie Shiv Kumar was sentenced to life imprisonment till death for the murder of Pratibha Srikanthamurthy that had lead to the revamping of security for women in IT sectors across India.

The Loomba Trust educates 3,000-plus children in 29 Indian states and runs entrepreneurship programmes for widows in Kenya, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. It also supports 1,500 HIV orphans in South Africa in partnership with Sir Preity ZintaRichard Branson's Virgin Unite. Zinta, who has participated in AIDS awareness drives and has joined the efforts of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime ((UNODC) to curb human trafficking and drug abuse in India, points out that HIV is a huge concern in the country, particualrly in the North-East and in Punjab in areas bordering Pakistan.

“Men pass AIDS on to their wives who pass it on to their children,” she sighs, adding that one way to control this menace is by sterilising needles. “We’ve started an initiative whereby we ask drug users and hospital staff to give up old needles that we replace with new.”

Zinta who reportedly is all set to return to Bollywood in a glam role in Yash Raj’s Mera Brother Ki Dulhan, co-starring Imran Khan, Katrina Kaif and Ali Zafar, continues to maintain a studied silence on the subject of her IPL Team, Kings XI Punjab, that has been expelled by the BCCI for financial irregularities. But according to a source, people back in Punjab, upset by her ouster from the League, are burning posters of BCCI and are calling her to offer their support.