Bec Cartwright had an epiphany in Vietnam -“ and she really wants to talk about it.

While I was over there I visited a children’s orphanage and the kids had AIDS and it was such an eye-opening experience, Cartwright says. Some of these kids would travel nine hours by motorbike, every three months, to get their medication.

It’s also really upsetting the way people with HIV and AIDS are discriminated against within Australia, but also stories I heard when over in Vietnam. The kids aren’t allowed to swim in the public swimming pool for instance. But it’s all due to a lack of knowledge and understanding of what the virus is, because people don’t know how they can come in contact with it, she says, taking a breath.

Once you get me started I don’t stop, she laughs.

Cartwright is best known to Australian TV audiences as Hayley on Home And Away, although she is currently broadening her fan base as one of the better hoofers on Dancing With The Stars. The show is proving a ratings bonanza for Channel 7, but is also providing an opportunity for the performers to publicise and assist their favourite charity.

If you vote for Cartwright, for instance, the money is donated to her chosen charity -“ the AIDS Trust of Australia. The better she struts her stuff, the more money keeps rolling in.

And Cartwright is very good, which non-viewers can see for themselves at this year’s Food and Wine Fair. Along with her ludicrously camp (but very slick) dancing partner Michael, Cartwright will present her favourite routines -“ as part promotion, entertainment and practice.

It’s the most awesome thing that I’m doing at the moment. I’m having a ball and I don’t want it to ever come to an end, but it’s been pretty hectic, she says.

We may only have one or two rehearsals some weeks. We sometimes start our dance rehearsals at 10 o’clock at night and then I’m still back at Home And Away at six o’clock the next morning.

To do your bit, cheer her along at the Piazza stage, 1, 2, 3pm and 4pm. And if ballroom dancing isn’t your bag, you can always vote for the AIDS Trust’s newest supporter anyway by sending an SMS of Bec to 19 11 77 or phoning 1902 555 011. Either communication will cost you 55 cents, which goes to a very good cause.

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