Pamela Anderson in Japan to raise AIDS awareness

Actress Pamela Anderson was in Tokyo on Friday to promote AIDS awareness in Asia, saying she has been inspired by her own experience as being diagnosed with Hepatitis C to urge people who might be infected to get tested and, if needed, seek medical help. "In the past, 25 million people globally have died of AIDS," she said at a news conference. "Everyday, 8,500 people die and 14,500 are infected."

She noted that the number of AIDS victims in Asia is growing rapidly, although it is still relatively low in Japan, which has about 20,000 known cases. Anderson last year became the spokeswoman for the MAC AIDS Fund, which has through the sales of Viva Glam lipstick worldwide raised some US$65 million for HIV/AIDS programs. She said that her own experience with Hepatitis C has added a personal element to her efforts to boost AIDS awareness.

"People can live their whole lives without knowing they have Hepatitis C," she said. "I feel healthy, I have a ton of energy. But it's important to be tested so that you can make healthy decisions." Anderson, who became a sex symbol in the United States with her role as a lifeguard in the TV series Baywatch, is the latest of many stars who have helped promote the MAC AIDS fund, including Christina Aguilera, Missy Elliott, Chloe Sevigny, Linda Evangelista and Boy George. Anderson was on her first trip to Japan. Hepatitis C is a viral disease that affects the liver. Like AIDS, it is often transmitted through contact with the blood of infected persons, reports the AP.

N.U.