Actress Ashley Judd on Central American tour to educate youth about AIDS

Hollywood actress Ashley Judd met with AIDS patients here Tuesday and urged Guatemalans to eliminate prejudice against those who have the illness on the first day of a Central American tour as world ambassador for a private AIDS organization.

"I know that there is misinformation, that there is a stigma and superstitions that only contribute to the spread of AIDS," Judd, world ambassador for the Washington-based YouthAIDS group, said while visiting an AIDS clinic run by Maryknoll nuns in the town of Coatepeque, 165 kilometers (100 miles) west of Guatemala City.

Fellow actress Salma Hayek and Colombian singer Juanes, who also represent the group, were expected to join Judd later Tuesday. The three planned to stay in Guatemala for several days, during which time they will meet with President Oscar Berger to discuss the AIDS situation in the country. Judd and Hayek will then continue the tour in Honduras and Nicaragua.

YouthAIDS promotes sexual abstinence as the only 100 percent-safe way to prevent AIDS, as well as monogamy and correct condom use.

Government statistics show 8,600 patients with AIDS in Guatemala, although it is widely believed that many people with the illness have gone unreported. A majority of those with AIDS contract the illness through sexual activity, the Health Ministry said, reports AP.

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