Aishwarya Rai Bachchan named U.N. HIV/AIDS envoy

UNITED NATIONS Tue Sep 25, 2012 4:48pm IST

Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan poses during a beach front photocall at the 64th Cannes Film Festival, May 13, 2011. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan poses during a beach front photocall at the 64th Cannes Film Festival, May 13, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Yves Herman

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UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations appointed Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan a goodwill ambassador on Monday, with a mission to help stop new HIV infections in children and promote increased access to anti-retroviral treatment.

Rai, who gave birth to her first child in November, will work with the U.N. program on HIV/AIDS, known as UNAIDS, advocating the "Global plan towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children and keeping their mothers alive."

"Spreading awareness on health issues, especially related to women and children, has always been a priority for me," Rai said in a statement. "And now, as a new mother, I can personally relate to this - the joys and concerns of every mother and the hopes that we have for our children."

The plan Rai will be promoting focuses on 22 countries, including India, which account for more than 90 percent of new HIV infections among children. Of those, 21 are in sub-Saharan Africa, where the estimated number of children newly infected by HIV fell by 25 percent between 2009 and 2011, UNAIDS said.

Rai, who often features on "most beautiful" lists and is married to actor Abhishek Bachchan, won the Miss World crown in 1994. She went on to build a successful Bollywood career with hits such as "Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam" and "Devdas."

She has also worked in Hollywood films such as "The Pink Panther 2" and is a regular at the Cannes film festival.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by David Brunnstrom and Todd Eastham)

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