Several years ago I personally witnessed Nelson Mandela, standing in front of his former prison cell on Robben Island, addressing the world's press. His message was that the pandemic of HIV/AIDS in africa was in fact, a genocide. Since that time I resolved to do as much as I can to bring attention to the HIV/AIDS crisis. (Annie Lennox)
Last May I wrote about a chance encounter and riveting conversation Vickie, Donna Thomson and I had with the most successful female recording artist in the UK ever – Annie Lennox. Ms Lennox has become an HIV-AIDS activist although she has taken a different path than most celebrities.
Her two immediate goals are
- to ensure children are born free of HIV infection – i.e. to prevent the transmission of the AIDS virus from mother to child and
- that their mothers remain alive and healthy enough to raise them.
She understands that HIV/AIDS disproportionately affects women and children and has an articulate feminist analysis to go along with her activism.
She works primarily through organizations who have a proven track record working directly with mothers. We met in the London living room of a mutual acquaintance to hear the founders of mothers2mothers. Their approach is elegant and effective: to train and employ HIV positive mothers as Mentor Mothers.
Each year, more babies are born with HIV in one busy clinic in Africa than in the United States, Canada and England combined. This is because treatment to prevent HIV infection of newborns in the developed world has essentially eradicated mother-to-child transmission of the virus. The solution is straightforward and cheap – a single dose of medication during labour for Mom and shortly after for baby.
In my original post I added a link to a U-tube video of Annie's deeply moving new song Universal Child. Delightfully she has included it on her new Christmas album. Have a listen and/or a look. Universal Child will become a classic just like its composer.
What struck us about Ms Lennox was her lack of pretension. She is putting herself on the uncomfortable line of fighting the stigma of HIV/AIDS well beyond photo ops and the public eye.
To catch her TED talk entitled Why I am an HIV-AIDS activist click here.