Charities praise RED edition of 'Independent'

The RED edition of The Independent has won praise from charities for highlighting the issues facing some of the world's poorest countries.

Within hours of going on sale yesterday, copies of the newspaper, guest edited by Bono of the rock band U2, had become collectors' items. One edition was bought for £9.90 on eBay and newsagents reported that copies had sold out.

Charities welcomed the fact that half of the revenues from the newspaper were going to help fight HIV and Aids among women and children in Africa.

But they also praised Bono's decision to raise awareness of the epidemic that is blighting a continent and successive generations of its people.

Deborah Jack, the chief executive of the National Aids Trust, said: "For us, it was a really important edition because it tackled the issue in a new and fresh way. "Deaths from Aids do not make the papers because people have got to used to them happening, and yet this is the most serious infection facing not just Africa but also countries like the UK, where rates of HIV are continuing to rise."

She added: "We need to keep the pressure on politicians to fulfil their high-level commitments and look at new ways of tackling the epidemic.

"In some countries there are so many people infected and so many people dying and yet they are still not using condoms. Things like vaccines and microbicides are on the horizon and we need to invest in those," she said.

"Putting the issue on the front page of The Independent will also help to tackle the stigma and discrimination that faces people who have HIV/Aids."

Richard Miller, the UK director of the development charity ActionAid, said: "Congratulations to The Independent for putting HIV in Africa on the front page and focusing an edition on aid, debt and trade.

"We did fear that the media - whose headlines last year helped spur politicians to make key pledges - would soon forget those issues or feel that they had been 'done'.''

He added: "The decision of the guest editor, Bono, to splash the demands of the Make Poverty History campaign on The Independent's pages keeps our politicians on notice that they must deliver.

"It is also a stinging critique of a media agenda that ignores a daily toll of 6,500 preventable deaths."

Clarification

In yesterday's edition of the paper, we reported that the street painting featured by Banksy was commissioned by The Independent newspaper. A spokesman for the artist said: "Banksy does not do graffiti commissions for national newspapers and is unlikely to start at any point in the near future."

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