05/15/2006 AT 9:30 AM ET
Like Angelina Jolie, Naomi Watts will be working with the United Nations to combat a global problem: AIDS. On Monday the U.N. announced that the actress will serve as a new special envoy on HIV/AIDS.
“I only hope that, as a UNAIDS Special Representative, I can do my small part to raise AIDS awareness and to encourage greater international support for the vital work being done on the ground,” she said in a statement.
The devastation of AIDS was made clear to Watts, 37, when she went on a recent UNAIDS mission to Zambia. In the African country, she visited clinics, hospitals, shelters and schools. She said she was “humbled and inspired” by the people she met, Reuters reports.
In her new role, UNAIDS said, Watts will “use her talent and profile to raise AIDS awareness and give greater voice to the needs of people living with HIV worldwide.”
About 40 million people are infected with HIV; in Africa, AIDS is the leading cause of death.