Letter: The caring power of red ribbons

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The Independent Online
Sir: May I applaud Simon Garfield (30 March) for drawing attention to the red ribbon and the message behind it: that of demonstrating care and concern for people living with HIV and those involved in their care.

While it is true that the ribbon has been worn extensively by showbiz and media personalities, it is also true that it is being worn by people around the world who wish to show their support for and solidarity with those affected by issues surrounding HIV and Aids. Ribbons were seen on British streets especially around World Aids Day last year (1 December), when more than 60 organisations launched the World Aids Day Initiative in the UK.

As the director of the American charity Broadway Cares pointed out in the New York Times last year: 'The ribbon does not feed people or protect them from discrimination or provide leadership or a cure. But it is, at least, an easy first step.'

The experience of many of those giving out ribbons on World Aids Day was that even this easy first step is still too big for many to take. It falls to all sorts of people and organisations to fight for the necessary human, political and economic rights due to those living with HIV, and to that task we bring as much thought and action as we can in developing a variety of responses.

It is easy to forget that many people living with or caring for those with HIV and Aids, especially outside the large urban centres, can be vulnerable to tremendous isolation and loneliness, sometimes compounded by active prejudice and hostility from their communities. The red ribbon is a bold signal that they are not forgotten.

Yours faithfully,

IAN POITIER

World Aids Day Co-ordinator

National Aids Trust

London, SE1

30 March

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