HIV/AIDS is not the unbeatable affliction it once was, but we are still a longway from eradication. The struggle continues, but support from a significant number of awareness campaigns are spotlighting the cause. John Legend and Belvedere are among those making voices heard.
It’s been five years since Belvedere began its collaboration with the (RED) campaign, founded by Bono, whose mission is to raise funds and awareness to combat AIDS. For the 2016 edition of its #MakeTheDifference campaign, Belvedere has launched a special-edition bottle of its premium vodka, with 50% of the profits donated directly to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS. In the past, the company has joined forces with Lady Gaga, Usher, Mary J. Blige and Rita Ora. This year, its two ambassadors are contemporary South African artist, Esther Mahlangu, and singersongwriter, John Legend.
Belvedere president, Charles Gibb, whom we met in New York in September, hopes to see AIDS eradicated in his lifetime. “I think we can do it in 15 years,” he said. “An entire generation that’s HIV-negative is within reach!” Many large brands, including GAP and Apple, are associated with the (RED) campaign, which is already bearing fruit. More than $360M has been raised to date, helping over 30,000 HIV-positive women give birth to healthy babies. “That may seem like a lot,” says Gibb, “but it’s not enough. Every day in Africa, more than 600 babies are born with HIV. Before this campaign, it was 1,500. Yes, we are making progress, but there is so much still to be done. I would like to see the number drop to zero.”
For Belvedere’s president, John Legend and Esther Mahlangu were perfect choices for the #MakeTheDifference campaign: “It is a great honour for us to work with such talented people. As always, we wanted to be associated with artists of renown who are also socially committed, authentic people.” There was instant chemistry between the singer, and legendary 82-year-old painter. Mahlangu, who has seen AIDS ravage her community, used the traditional painting style of her Ndebele tribe to create a beautiful and colourful design for the limited-edition bottle. As for 37-year-old Legend, whose partner, Chrissy Teigen, recently gave birth to a little girl, he needed no convincing: “I want to create a better world for my daughter. Everyone of my generation knows someone who has been afflicted. I believe that if we continue to support research, it is possible to make this disease disappear.” At the launch of (Belvedere)RED, Legend sang Love Me Now, a hymn to love in these very uncertain times. As he says, “We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, we have to love and give without waiting, here and now.”
With the collaboration of Josée Lemire