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Bono unveils new
corporate coalition program to fight AIDS

Bono unveils new
corporate coalition program to fight AIDS

Bono on Thursday unveiled a new push to fight HIV in Africa, announcing a new program by several companies to sell products under a brand called Red, with some of the revenue going to global AIDS programs.

"So, here we are, fat cats in the snow, and I say that as one," the U2 front man said Thursday to laughs. Bono was flanked by Italian fashion tycoon Giorgio Armani and corporate executives who joined him for the announcement at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.

Bono said the money would go to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.

The project includes red-theme products from American Express, Converse footwear, Gap clothing, and Giorgio Armani. A red American Express card will be offered initially only in the United Kingdom as of next month.

Products branded Red will include sports shoes, T-shirts, and sunglasses--some produced in Africa, some with African materials.

"I'm calling it conscious commerce for people who are awake: people who think about their spending power and say, 'I've got two jeans I can buy. One I know is made in Africa and is going to make a difference, and the other isn't. What am I going to buy?' " Bono said.

Richard Feachem, executive director of the Global Fund, said "a very small proportion" of the fund's $4.7 billion comes from corporations or individuals, but added that he had concluded that depending on governments wasn't enough.

The Global Fund was created to finance a dramatic turnaround in the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. To date the fund has committed $4.4 billion in 128 countries to fight the diseases.

Feachem said he hoped Red would generate "tens of millions of dollars soon, hundreds of millions of dollars a little further downstream. Significant money."

"If we succeed," Bono interjected. "But we could fail. If people are jaded or cynical...or genuinely not interested, then we fail. But we've tried. I think we've come up with a sexy, smart, savvy idea that will save people's lives." (AP)

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