THE HISTORY OF THE RED RIBBON

World AIDS Day 2009

In 1991 a group of people working in the art New York formed an organization called Visual AIDS.

Their aim was to spread awareness of AIDS and the need for funds for research and care. They needed a strong symbol. A member, Paul Tabara thought of the yellow Ribbon at that time being worn in memory of the USA soldiers killed in the Gulf – war. He the decided on a Red Ribbon to represent Blood Passion (both anger at HIV/AIDS and Love) for its victims and a warning that the disease must not be ignored stigmatized or discriminated.

The Red Ribbon was first worn in public by an actor; Jeremy Irons at the 1991 Tony Awards ceremony for the US Television Industry. Soon the Red Ribbon became a popular fashion accessory among the celebrities.

The Red Ribbon spread worldwide when 10,000 Red Ribbon were distributed at the Freddie Mercury AIDS Awareness Tribute Concert in London in 1993. More than a b billion people around the world watched the concert on TV and saw the Red Ribbon. Since then the Red Ribbon has become the global symbol for HIV/AIDS pinned on clothing and printed on posters. It reminds us of the need to unite to fight HIV/AID’s stigma and discrimination and the need for tolerance of carries and sufferers. Paul Tabara died of AID’s, but the symbol he created is still stronger than ever.

On 1st December 2009 over 30,000 people in Kenya turned up to celebrate the International World AIDS Day at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre – K.I.C.C grounds in Nairobi. The most remarkable event of the day was the award ceremony of the winners of the Mr.& Mrs. Red Ribbon 2009 – 2010 Nakuru Kenya was also watched with over 10,000,000 and the Kenyan’s countrywide and the message from Mr. Red Ribbon was “ We all belong to one and we are one, why stigmatize and discriminate, we all have equal human rights”.

I’m willing to distribute over 50,000 Red Ribbons to the delegates who shall be attending the World AIDS Conference in Vienna later this year. I feel that it is the right time for the world to know that so much has been done on awareness; research is also underway to find a vaccine. Prevention and care we are proud to say that the outcome is good, but nothing and pure nothing has been done to avert stigmatization and discrimination, so help me deliver this message worldwide. The only challenge facing me is how to reach Vienna.

I do therefore thank you n advance all well wishers, sponsors, donors, NGO’s, F.B.O’sand the Government Sector who will contribute so that my dream comes true.
We are there to give HIV/AID’s a Humane Face.

Yours Mr. Red Ribbon – Kenya
Peter Onyango Okola

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