The UN estimates that about 5.5 million people are suffering from HIV/AIDS in India and only a fraction is getting treatment despite the country's pharmaceutical industry producing low cost medicines for the disease.
Launching the `Amritraj Foundation' yesterday, the 53-year old sportsman, who has also been a commentator and an actor, said his decision to float the charity came after he witnessed the extent of suffering of the HIV/AIDS victims while on assignments as the UN's Messenger for Peace.
The Foundation will extend support to charities in India, who have a considerable track record of working among the HIV/AIDS affected in India. Focus would be given to children affected by the virus, he said.
The first of the charity to be identified for help is Naaz Foundation (India) Trust, based in New Delhi and on the field since 1994. Naaz is already being supported by Ford Foundation, the UNESCO and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Amritraj said he had received overwhelming support for the project from the Indian American community, who were among the richest minorities in the United States.
As part of its efforts to raise funds, the California-based Foundation will organise the Vijay Amritraj Charity Golf Classic in November next, which will be followed by a gala banquet in Los Angeles.