Internationally-acclaimed actress Naomi Watts has taken a volunteer job as a special United Nations envoy on HIV/AIDS. Watts has just returned from a fact-finding trip to southern Africa.
The 37-year-old star of such hit movies as King Kong, The Ring and Mulholland Drive is taking time out from her film career to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS.
She came to the United Nations Monday to receive an appointment as UN/AIDS special representative. She told reporters she had been emotionally moved during a just-completed week-long visit to AIDS-ravaged Zambia.
"There is still so much to be done," she said. "I saw these great programs, and these incredibly dedicated people working day and night to save lives. But the problem is, there are just not enough people there to go around. Those fighting this fight on the ground need more money, more doctors, more nurses, more schooling, more community workers, more clinics, more bicycles, even more food."
The actress said she had not been influenced in taking the job by her friend and fellow Australian actress Nicole Kidman who earlier took a similar U.N. volunteer position advancing women's rights.
Watts said she would be attending a U.N. summit on AIDS that begins May 31, to publicize a new global campaign called "Four for Everyone."
"I want to use this position as a way to spread the word, to tell people what I saw and hopefully they will connect in the same way I do, and to be there through the summit and express those fears and desires of mine and hope people will follow through with some of the promises that have been made and make sure they keep on giving," she said.
The "Four for Everyone" campaign is timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the UN/AIDS program. It will promote the idea of what are called the "four pillars": HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services should be available to all who need them.
UN/AIDS estimates nearly 40 million people are living with AIDS worldwide. Half the new HIV infections occur in people under the age of 25.