Judd visiting India to promote women's rights

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MUMBAI, India -- Helping women to understand their rights is crucial in the fight against HIV/AIDS, said Ashley Judd in an interview published Monday.

Grass-roots prevention programs that target women work well, the 38-year-old Hollywood actress told the Mumbai-based DNA newspaper.

Judd is representing Population Services International, a Washington-based nonprofit organization, during her weeklong visit to India to promote awareness about HIV/AIDS.

She met sex workers in Mumbai, India's financial and entertainment capital, after her arrival Saturday. Aid workers estimate there are at least 10,000 sex workers in Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay.

"The empowerment of girls and women is an essential tool to preventing the HIV/AIDS emergency from exploding any further," DNA quoted Judd as saying.

The actress, whose movies include "De-Lovely" and "Kiss the Girls," has traveled across the world to focus attention on HIV/AIDS.

Most women have "dreams for other people, but not dreams for themselves," she said. "That is painful."

With 5.7 million infections, India has the world's largest number of people living with HIV/AIDS. The government has launched campaigns encouraging high-risk groups such as sex workers to use condoms, aimed at stopping the disease from spreading.

"There is a common problem worldwide and there is also a common solution," Judd said about the need for more prevention and awareness programs.

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