NEW DELHI, INDIA (SEPTEMBER 29, 2013) (ANI) - Miss Universe 2012, Olivia Culpo, attended the 'walk for life' campaign in New Delhi to spread awareness about the fatal disease of AIDS among Indians and to stand against female foeticide.
Authorities organised a walkathon on Sunday (September 29) to convey the message of 'zero tolerance towards discrimination' towards the victims of HIV and AIDS and of gender equality.
The American beauty, Culpo, said that her motive of associating with the cause was to direct the attention of youngsters towards the cause as more attention meant more awareness.
"I am here tonight to kick off the tour for the girl child against female foeticide and I am also here as the spokesperson against HIV AIDS. As a 21-year-old it is so exciting to see so many young people because I think it's the new generation and the numbers are getting smaller but there is so much that we need to do and so many that need to be informed and the only we are going to do that is by getting everybody excited and that will happen by starting a dialogue," said Culpo.
Some 34 million people worldwide are infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS - the vast majority of them in poor and developing countries.
But while, particularly in wealthy nations, there are many effective drugs available that allow HIV patients to live long, healthy lives, they often have side-effects and drug resistance can become a problem with long-term use.
Total funding for the global fight against HIV and AIDS in 2012 was $18.9 billion, about $3 billion to $5 billion short of the estimated $22 billion to $24 billion needed annually by 2015.
Meanwhile, talking about the best experience of winning the global beauty pageant, Culpo said that it was the opportunity of being a change maker and being able to be associated with social causes, such as fight against female foeticide.
"It's very incredible. It's been really special to do things like this and to promote causes like the UNAIDS, like the girl child. It's like telling people that step by step we will be closer to an AIDS free world. I feel really special about this," said Culpo.
Despite laws banning tests to determine the sex of an unborn child, the killing of female foetuses is common in some regions of India where a preference for sons runs deep.
This has led to skewed sex ratios in regions like Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat and Himachal Pradeshas well as the capital, New Delhi, where a census in 2001 showed there are less than 800 girls for every 1,000 boys.
In most parts of India, sons are viewed as breadwinners who will look after their parents and carry on the family name, but daughters are viewed as financial liabilities for whom they will have to pay substantial dowries to get married off.