Lulu Vilapati, a translator at the Baylor pediatric AIDS clinic in Swaziland in southern Africa, tested positive for HIV in 2003. At the time she was pregnant with her daughter, Simethemba. Fortunately, because of her early diagnosis, Vilapati was able to avoid passing the virus to her daughter, and Simethemba was born HIV-negative.

This holiday season, the profits of consumers’ shopping can help people like Vilapati. When holiday shoppers purchase (RED) products at participating stores, they can help give money to people living with HIV/AIDS in Africa. Shoppers who visit, for example, can read Vilapati’s story as well as the stories of other people who have benefited from the profits of the (RED) brand.

"Since its launch in October of 2006, contributions from the sale of (RED) products have contributed more than $50 million to the Global Fund to help fight AIDS in Africa," said Julie Cordua, vice president of marketing for (RED).

According to (RED) brand publicity materials, 2,000 children in sub-Saharan Africa are infected with HIV every day. Around the world 40 million people live with HIV/AIDS. Africa is home to 60 percent of people living with HIV although the continent only contains 10 percent of the world population. Portions of the profits from (RED) brand products are donated to help treat and prevent HIV in African countries and the products available appeal to those who like fashion, technology or even scrapbooking.

"Each of our partners have a line of (RED) products including clothing, accessories, phones, iPods, greeting cards, wrapping paper, totes and more," said Cordua.

(RED) was started by Bobby Shriver, chairman of Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa, or DATA, and U2’s lead-singer, Bono. The brand was funded in an effort to get the world’s biggest brands to collaborate with making RED-branded products and raise funds for its cause. So far, the (RED) brand partners include the Gap, Hallmark, Emporio Armani, Converse, Motorola and Apple.

"All of the partners have success with their lines, including the (RED) Gap shirts, Motorola phones, iPods and the Converse shoes," Cordua added.

Celebrities have been getting involved with the (RED) campaign too. Julia Roberts worked with Emporio Armani to create a bracelet that will be available to shoppers in December. While Mary J. Blige, Penelope Cruz and Jennifer Garner have all modeled Gap (RED) shirts bearing logos such as INSPI(RED) or DESI(RED).

The portion of the profits that companies donate is sent to the Global Fund. Then the money is sent to African countries where it can be used to buy medicines, fund clinics or help people infected with HIV.

"The Global Fund has earmarked (RED) dollars to be used specifically for AIDS programs in Africa with a focus on women and children," said Cordua. "100 percent of the money is put to work on the ground in Africa. (RED) grants represent the best-performing and neediest programs within the Global Fund’s extensive portfolio of AIDS grants in Africa, thus ensuring that every dollar raised is effectively and immediately translated into lives saved."

During this shopping season many of the companies involved with (RED) will have new items available. The most popular are Gap’s burgundy-red T-shirts but everyone in the holiday list can receive one of these conscious gifts. For the chatty, Motorola’s MotoRAZR V3m is on sale only in North America and has its own a Bluetooth accessories. If fragrance is on someone’s wish list, Armani’s (PRODUCT) Red white eau du toilet for men and women offers fresh, woody scents. The social awareness can be spread worldwide too with holiday cards and E-cards specially designed by Hallmark.

About The Author

Pamela King is a Blast Magazine correspondent

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