Designer Launches Anti-AIDS Campaign

ByABC News via via logo

Dec. 1, 2005 — -- Designer Kenneth Cole is launching an AIDS awareness campaign today to coincide with World AIDS Day.

We are all "coming together with one voice, one message," Cole said. "If anyone is infected, we are all affected. If it exists anywhere, it exists everywhere."

Cole said he hoped the campaign's message of "We All Have AIDS" would erode the stigma attached to the disease. "It's expected by the year 2010 that 100 million people [will be] living with HIV," he noted. Twenty-five million people have died from AIDS since 1981 and 3.1 million people died in 2005. The numbers are growing: 4.9 million people were infected this year, and 38 million adults and 2.3 million children are living with AIDS. Currently, women make up less than half of those infected, but their numbers are quickly rising.

Cole has brought together people he believes are key in the fight against the disease -- from stars like Richard Gere, Whoopi Goldberg, Elizabeth Taylor and Tom Hanks to activists like former South African President Nelson Mandela and Elizabeth Glaser who founded the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatrics AIDS Foundation.

"This is a disaster that cannot be solved by one person," Gere said. "It can only be solved by all of us."

The campaign's slogan will appear on billboards, television and the radio. It will also run in Europe. In addition, campaign participants made impressions of their feet in cement to symbolize the impact one can have in the struggle against AIDS. The impressions were used to construct a memorial, which also displays a 40-foot-long reproduction of the "We All Have AIDS" image. The memorial, which took nearly a year to construct, will be on view in Bryant Park in New York City until Jan. 16.

"We will reach over a billion people, we anticipate, in the next 30 days alone," Cole said.

Cole was one of the first fashion designers to speak out against the disease. In 1986 he created an ad that featured the day's top models posing with children. The onscreen text read: "For the future of our children … support AIDS research." He has served as a board member of the American Foundation for AIDS Research since 1985 and recently took a trip to South Africa to see the AIDS-ravaged country.

T-shirts bearing the campaign's slogan will be available at Barney's and Kenneth Cole stores.

Cole said he hoped the campaign would force people to deal with the reality of the incurable disease.

"If anyone has it, we all have it," he said.

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