Recently, Apple Computer announced its line of RED products to help promote AIDS awareness. These iPod nanos, which will be colored red and are being sold along with the other nanos, are designed to tell people about AIDS awareness.
Apple is going to donate $10 from the sale of each iPod to the Global Fund. The company has created this product in association with Bono, lead singer of the band U2.
“We’re ecstatic that Apple is giving their customers the choice to buy a red iPod nano and help women and children affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa,” Bono said in a released statement.
Bono is the cofounder of an organization called (RED), whose sole purpose is to promote HIV/AIDS awareness at home and in Africa.
But Apple is not the only company to participate in this RED awareness campaign. Companies like Gap and Motorola are planning to release RED products and will be donating some of their profits as well. The new red Gap line of clothing is said to debut this week, and Motorola has released its RED Motorola RAZR via cell-phone provider U.S. Cellular.
AIDS awareness is being promoted on campus as well. There are many protests and demonstrations, and some CU students have even gone overseas to Africa to help out.
Tori Guruswamy, a Senior here at CU who is going for a double major in integrative physiology and business marketing, spent the last three summers abroad in Africa participating in AIDS awareness and education. The Campus Press recently sat down with Guruswami to find out about
Campus Press: Do you see the effects of America’s involvement in AIDS awareness in Africa?
Tori Guruswamy: Most definitely. The bigger question, however, would be is America’s involvement in AIDS awareness positive or negative? You will find many differing opinions on this, depending on who you talk to on either side (African or American). Over the past few summers I have concentrated most of my work helping with AIDS Awareness in Swaziland, Africa. Swaziland holds the infamous statistic of highest infection rate. Last I checked, the UN said it was about 42.6%. In Swaziland there are numerous different organizations that come and go (who) are trying to help the problem. The question is: are they helping?
CP: Does it seem like companies and people over here are helping and making a difference? Or does the fight against AIDS not see any of the money that is supposed to be going to it?
TG: Walking down the street in Mbabane (the nation’s capital) you see various signs and billboards, stating, “AIDS is a killer disease,” “Wear a condom!” “Take your ARVs (a drug used to combat AIDS),” etc. On my first trip into Swaziland in 2004, I was shocked at the amount of public “awareness” you see when in the city. However, if you dig deeper into the situation and take the time to chat with students in the high schools, you will see a different story. I cannot speak on behalf of Swaziland. I can only speak from my personal experience. And from what I have encountered, many Swazis feel that too many groups come and go. Look at the Dream For Africa Campaign (which I was initially a part of), large and small groups alike that come and go are often associated with a negative social stigma because of false promises and lack of consistency.
You will always run into corrupt governments that will receive millions of dollars to fight AIDS in their country and never let their citizens see a single cent. There are a million different angles on how to fight AIDS in Africa, from condomizing to abstinence and virtually everything in between.
There are medical companies that will come in and donate ARV’s in an attempt to help but will end up hindering their patients who develop MDR HIV/AIDS due to lack of a consistent intake of the medication. I think overall that America has had a positive influence, but that is based almost entirely on my personal experiences and interactions with people there. Everyone is going to tell you a different story, a different way to combat the largest pandemic in the world. My view is: The more the merrier for fighting an incurable disease.
The problems happen when campaigns are teaching different things. When you have one VCT (voluntary counseling and testing) clinic funded through a private organization that promotes the use of condoms and another in the same rural area that promotes abstinence. This results is an inconsistency in the information received, which ultimately results in the downfall of both programs. Programs have to remember that we all want the same thing: We all desire to see a cure for AIDS, and we all want to put a stop to the four people that die every single minute from HIV/AIDS.
CP: Should companies like Apple and Gap continue promoting AIDS awareness in Africa and donating portions of their profits?
TG: There can never be enough awareness in the world. Apple and Gap are trying to do with their RED campaigns what has been done with pink in association with breast cancer awareness. Aldo has already started a campaign for AIDS Awareness with their necklaces that are sold in stores and include celebrity-involved commercials. The ONE campaign is also another movement fighting poverty and AIDS. I am for any way to promote awareness of the situation without exploiting individual people and their personal stories. I am not familiar with how much of Apple/Gap’s profit goes directly to AIDS Education or research. The last thing anyone wants to see is someone exploiting a starving child in Africa so that a multi-million dollar company like Apple can profit. If their campaigns are legitimate and they are finding reliable awareness or medical programs to invest in, or if the money is going to research, then I’d encourage everyone I know to go buy their RED lines.