NEW YORK, May 31, 2006 – The NBA and UNICEF today joined forces in support of Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS, a global campaign to limit the impact of HIV and AIDS on children and halt the spread of the virus.

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The announcement, at a press conference held at UNICEF headquarters, featured Philadelphia 76ers center Samuel Dalembert, Houston Rockets center Dikembe Mutombo, 11-time NBA Champion and Hall of Famer Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics, NBA community ambassador and former New York Knicks forward Jerome Williams, WNBA legend and Olympic gold medalist Teresa Weatherspoon , NBA Commissioner David Stern, UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman, UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot and Ms. Nane Annan, lawyer, activist and author.

The global public service announcement on AIDS awareness and prevention featured Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, Yao Ming, Andrei Kirilenko and Dirk Nowitzki. (NBAE/Getty)

The partnership pairs the NBA’s global outreach initiative, NBA Cares, with UNICEF. To support the Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS Campaign, the NBA and UNICEF will launch a multi-lingual global public service announcement (PSA) featuring 10 NBA/WNBA players including Mutombo, two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns, Houston Rockets center Yao Ming, Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James and WNBA star Swin Cash. The PSA was screened today for the first time.

"Having these players jump into the game to call attention to the enormous impact of AIDS on children is a huge win for children throughout the world,” UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman said. “We are grateful to have the NBA as our newest partner in the Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS campaign.”

One of the critical goals of the campaign is pediatric AIDS treatment. Less than 5 per cent of HIV-positive children who need treatment have access to it. The Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS campaign target is to provide treatment to 80 per cent of children in need by 2010.

The other key areas of the campaign are:

  • Preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV
  • Preventing HIV infection among adolescents and young people
  • Protecting and supporting children affected by HIV and AIDS

Produced by NBA Entertainment and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, the PSA features NBA/WNBA players offering disturbing statistics on the impact of the global AIDS crisis on children, such as the fact that a child is orphaned every second. The PSA also features Los Angeles Clippers forward Elton Brand, Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki, Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko, Memphis Grizzlies forward Pau Gasol and New York Liberty guard Becky Hammon. The television spot will debut worldwide in June during the NBA Finals. NBA programming is distributed globally to 215 countries and territories in 43 languages, reaching a global audience of more than 750 million television households.

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The NBA has been internationally recognized for its ongoing commitment to fighting the spread of AIDS in communities around the globe and has been honored for its efforts by the Global Business Coalition as a leader in global AIDS advocacy.

“We know that our sport, indeed all sports, has an enormous opportunity to deliver important messages on a global basis and this collaboration with UNICEF is just another step in our on-going commitment to engage our players and our game in the global fight against HIV/AIDS,” said NBA Commissioner David Stern.

The NBA has collaborated with UNICEF on several other awareness raising endeavors on education and health-related causes. Global public service announcements promoting HIV and AIDS education have featured NBA Players including Gasol, Kirilenko and Mutombo.

Since 2001, 17 NBA and WNBA teams have participated in the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF initiative, an education, fundraising and advocacy campaign for children. In addition, seven players have acted as UNICEF or UN Ambassadors, including Washington Wizards center Etan Thomas, who spearheaded the NBA’s Caribbean Relief Fund campaign, which raised over $100,000 for the Caribbean region’s hurricane relief efforts.

The NBA’s Basketball without Borders program, a basketball instructional camp for young athletes that also promotes friendship, healthy living and HIV and AIDS awareness and prevention, includes UNICEF-led HIV and AIDS interactive educational seminars. Since its inception in 2001, Basketball without Borders has featured more than 120 NBA players, coaches and team personnel from 29 different teams as camp coaches for the more than 700 young athletes from nearly 100 different countries and territories.

To support the UniteFor Children, Unite Against AIDS global campaign, the NBA will distribute NBA Cares/UNICEF “Skills for Life in a Box” to schools throughout China. This initiative, in partnership with UNICEF China, the Chinese Ministry of Education and Spalding, will take place during Basketball without Borders Asia in Shanghai from June 8-11.