Gere Taps into India's AIDS Problem

updated 12/20/2002 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/20/2002 01:00AM

One day after the announcement of his Golden Globe nomination for best actor in a musical or comedy, "Chicago"'s tap-dancing star Richard Gere had an announcement of his own to make -- in Bombay.

The leading man, 53, who's in India to participate in a children's carnival organized in part by the Gere Foundation India Trust, said the country should focus on youngsters suffering from HIV in its fight against the disease, the Associated Press reports.

"We need a way to touch the heart of the subject. We need to change the face of the disease," Gere said.

Besides Gere, who served as host, the gathering (whose purpose was to raise awareness and funds to help prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS) included actors from India's film industry -- which, in many respects, is as popular as Hollywood on that side of the planet.

"In America, by focusing on children, we got under the radar of prejudices, American prejudices ... We can remove the stigma surrounding the disease here (in India) here by changing the face of the disease," Gere told reporters.

Money raised at the carnival is slated to benefit two organizations focusing on HIV-positive women and children in India -- the American-based Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and Bombay's Naz Foundation.

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