Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Story of the Red Ribbon

With World AIDS Day right around the corner I wanted to share the story of how the HIV/AIDS RED Ribbon came about. Many people have been taking steps to help increase the awareness of AIDS as an important global pandemic. One simple way to show your support of this day is to wear a red ribbon.

To have a better understanding of its origins one must look back to the year 1991. Originally it was conceived as “The Ribbon Project” by a New York based charity group of art professionals known as Visual AIDS. They aimed to recognize as well as give honor to those they had known who had suffered at the hands of AIDS. At the time, the inspiration for the Red Ribbons originated in light of many people wearing and creating yellow ribbons in honor of soldiers serving in the 1st Persian Gulf War. The decision to use the color red based on its “connection to blood and the idea of passion – not only anger, but love, like a valentine,”

THE Red Ribbon with its AIDS / HIV connotation really made the big time when Jeremy Irons who was hosting the Tony awards in 1991 wore one. Following this act, it soon became fashionable and politically correct for various celebrities to wear the ribbons at other Awards ceremonies.The other side of the coin of course, is that this heightened popularity was brought into question. Was the wearing of Red Ribbons by various celebrities merely a paying of “lip service” to various HIV and AIDS interests?

Today, most people in the United States are aware of the red ribbon. While it may have had its HIV/AIDS roots born in 1991, it wasn’t until 1992 on an Easter Monday when at least 100,000 red ribbons were distributed at the Freddie Mercury AIDS awareness Tribute Concert at London’s Wimbley stadium. At the time, more than one billion people from all over the world, 70 countries worldwide were witness to the spectacle on television.

One often encounters the suggestion to use the ribbon one wears as a source of conversation with those one may meet. Awareness being key, making conversation of one’s ribbon can help educate those that are not familiar with the virus that causes AIDS.


  1. Excellent post, Robert! We all need to know more about AIDS and the AIDS ribbon. Great pic of Freddie :-) He's my hero and my inspiration. RIP Freddie Mercury.

    Love the post!

  2. Thanks for posting this Robert...many wear a Red Ribbon but not everyone is aware of the origin.

    Bradford McIntyre, HIV+ since 1984
    Vancouver, Canada

  3. Let the celebs wear it as some sort of "lip service" as long as the ribbon is being worn... the word gets out.