Social activist and U2 singer Bono is well-known for his campaigns supporting programs to fight AIDS in Africa, and one of his projects is something everyone around the world can easily contribute to.
By Carol Johnson
Over 22.5 million people in Africa are living with HIV/AIDS―nearly 70% of the 33.2 million people worldwide battling the disease. AIDS is the leading cause of death in Africa, killing over 4,000 people every day. Women and children are the hardest hit. Estimates are that over 11 million children in Africa are now orphans because of both parents dying from HIV/AIDS, and the number is growing. Healthcare workers estimate that almost 2,000 children are infected with HIV each day.
In the United States and other countries around the globe, the crisis in Africa seems remote and unreachable, and therefore easy to put aside and forget. Many people make donations to relief efforts, as much as their budgets will allow, hoping that perhaps people with deeper pockets can fill in the gaps. But now there is a way that consumers can easily fit donations into their budgets simply by purchasing items they had already planned to buy anyway.
On March 1, 2006, (PRODUCT)RED was launched in the UK by Bono (U2 singer and activist) and Bobby Shriver, chairman of DATA, an advocacy organization dedicated to eradicating extreme poverty and AIDS in Africa. The brand, designed to join businesses with consumers to help in the fight against AIDS in Africa, was launched later the same year in the United States. The parentheses around the name is called ‘the embrace’. Each company that becomes (RED) places its logo inside this embrace and is then ‘elevated to the power of red’. Thus the name, (PRODUCT)RED.
The idea behind (RED) is a simple one: the project works with the world’s best product brands to create unique products that carry the (RED) brand. Manufacturers agree to contribute up to 50% of their gross profits to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, to invest in African AIDS programs that focus on the health of women and children. According to the project’s website at http://joinred.com, it is not a charity―it is ‘an economic initiative that aims to deliver a sustainable flow of private sector money to the Global Fund’. The Global Fund was established in 2002 with support from world leaders to increase resources to fight three of the world’s most devastating diseases. Since its inception, the Global Fund has invested more than $8.4 billion in 136 countries to help local communities, governments, non-profit organizations, and the private sector in designing and executing their own programs to create real change for people and communities.
Since it began in 2006, (RED) has contributed more than $50 million to the Global Fund―more than 10 times the amount that businesses have contributed since the Global Fund was founded in 2002. Current manufacturers that have partnered with (RED) include Motorola, Gap, Converse, Apple, Emporio Armani, Hallmark, and American Express (UK only). Media sponsors America Online and MySpace have also contributed to the effort by donating space on their platforms to spread the word about (RED) to raise interest and awareness.
The (RED) Manifesto, posted on the project’s website, reads:
“Every Generation is known for something.
Let’s be the one to deliver an AIDS FREE GENERATION.
We all have tremendous power. What we choose to do or even buy, can affect someone’s life on the other side of the world. In 2010, 1,000 babies were born every day with HIV. In 2012, that number was down to 700. By 2015 it can be near zero.
We can stop the transmission of HIV from moms to their babies. In the fight to eliminate AIDS, 2015 could be the beginning of the end―it’s the year we can deliver an AIDS FREE GENERATION.
(RED) can’t accomplish this alone. It will take all of us to get there -governments, health organizations, companies, and you. When you DO THE (RED) THING, a (RED) partner will give up some of its profits to fight AIDS.
It’s as simple as that.
BE (RED). Start the end of AIDS now.”
It costs just $.40 a day to keep someone with HIV in Africa alive by giving them two pills a day. Because more than 70% of the people in Africa live on less than $2 a day, they cannot afford the medicine. (RED) engages consumers and businesses to provide people with the financial means to stay alive. And it’s as easy as buying a new Razr cell phone, an iPod, a pair of Converse sneakers, a Gap tote bag or t-shirt, or even a Hallmark greeting card.
For more information about (RED) and the other products you can purchase to help in this valiant effort, please visit http://joinred.com. For more information about the Global Fund, visit http://www.theglobalfund.org/en.