I don’t remember the first time I pinned a Red Ribbon in line with World AIDS Day but since then, I have been used to it without finding out where it comes from. Why not another color? Why not another object instead of a ribbon? Well, for 2012 World AIDS Day, I decided to dig a little in the matter and here is my brief finding.
The Red Ribbon is the result of a 1991 project organized by the Visual AIDS Artists Caucus, which is a New York-based organization. The mission of the Organization is to “utilize art to fight AIDS by provoking dialogue, supporting HIV+ artists, and preserving a legacy, because AIDS is not over.”
According to records, the artists who formed the “Visual AIDS Artists Caucus” wanted to create a symbol that can be seen to demonstrate compassion for people living with AIDS as well as their caregivers – individuals (paid or not) who regularly take care of a child or a sick, elderly, or disabled person.
These artists got inspired by the yellow ribbons honoring American soldiers serving in the Gulf war. The red color was chosen for its “connection to blood and the idea of passion — not only anger, but love, like a valentine.”
The project encourages to keep the Red Ribbon image copyright free, so that no individual or organization would profit from its use. It should also be used as a consciousness raising symbol, not as a commercial or trademark tool.
That’s it about the 21-year old Red Ribbon which is likely going to be around forever when you consider the direct and indirect consequences of HIV/AIDS on the individual, the family, the economy and the society at large.
Some 2012 resources on HIV/AIDS
- United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message on World Aids Day 2012
- UNAIDS World AIDS Day report 2012 – Results [PDF]
- PEPFAR Blue Print: Creating an AIDS-freeGeneration (PDF)
- Excerpt of UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe presenting his agency’s 2012 report