Over the past two decades, the world has made tremendous progress in the fight against AIDS. It is nothing short of remarkable.
I think back to the days of the early Nineties, when it seemed that AIDS was a pandemic that could never be stopped and a symbol of all that was wrong in the world. It became the defining issue of my generation.
Today is World AIDS Day. And today, I will be attending a panel discussion on AIDS in Washington D.C. that includes President Clinton, Bono and many others-- public health workers, activists, corporations-- who have worked constantly to make sure the progress continues.
And while today we all see optimistic symbols of our awareness about AIDS -- like the turning of the facade of the Empire State Building red-- the most amazing sign of progress is that we can even consider making this statement:
"We could have an AIDS-free generation by 2015."
That's the topic of the panel discussion. It's the goal and commitment of our long-time partner, (RED). And it's a much-needed reminder that the combination of hope, commitment and action can achieve nearly anything.
But I'm also reminded of the need to sustain. There is a real possibility of ending the transmission of HIV from a mother to her child in just a few years. Right now, still nearly 1,000 HIV-positive children are born every day. And while six million people are still alive because they've received treatment for AIDS-- largely because of access to life-saving medication that now costs just 40 cents a day-- the work is far from done.
That's why I'm incredibly proud to be part of a company like Gap, that continues to support organizations like (RED) and the Global Fund.
As a founding partner of (RED)Gap has raised millions of dollars to help fight AIDS. Today, to mark World AIDS Day, we launched two limited-edition T-shirts that benefit the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. The shirts are selling fast, proof that our customers join us in our belief that we can make the world a brighter place.
There are other things you can do today to stay involved: (RED) and ONE are joining forces to create a digital quilt, where you can pledge to do your part, however big or small, to help this effort. It's an updated version of the AIDS quilts of yesterday, which were designed to remember those who lost their battle with AIDS. The new digital quilt allows you to share your commitment to end the pandemic and encourage others to do the same.
I'm privileged to be in D.C. today, representing Gap and witnessing the impact that people like you have already had in saving the lives of millions. And I'm energized to consider that the end may soon be near: an AIDS-free generation. Inconceivable just two decades ago. Possible today. Achievable in the near future, if we continue to try and make it so.