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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Fashion to stop the spread


PUJA AWASTHI | Washington, August 4, 2012 19:37
Tags : Stop the Spread | hiv aids | Positive Runway campaign |

While the end of HIV AIDS might still be distant, the young are losing interest in the subject. The Positive Runway campaign is an attempt to address this disinterest by bringing together the power of celebrity, fashion and music to engage the 15-24 age group.

Initiated in 2008, in London, as a fashion show, the campaign has since spread to 30 countries across five continents, with the message 'Stop the Spread' shouted from a global catwalk. Top fashion designers dress the campaign's signature models who walk the runway with little red ribbons painted on their faces.

Dwight Eubanks, celebrity hairstylist who has been the campaign's patron for the last two years says that the young are increasingly 'lackadaisical' in their approach to HIV AIDS. 'We need an in your face approach to talk to them', he says.

Despite advances in medical science, the number of new infections is high. In 2010, 2.7 million fresh HIV cases were detected worldwide. In countries such as Swaziland, more than a quarter of the population between the ages of 15-49 is infected. However the availability of medicines has meant that many of the infected will not progress to full blown AIDS. It is a scenario that has seduced the young into believing that AIDS is a thing of the past.

Justina Mulate, founder of the Positive Runway, who hopes to get the campaign to India soon, says, 'We still have a long way to go. We can't walk that distance without the young'.

The campaign has not limited itself to the runway. It extends to the Global Catwalk magazine--an online and paper version and a social network. There is also merchandise on sale. The common focus for all is the need to be relevant to the young, to speak their language and open their eyes to other ills-- such as sex trafficking that plagues their world.

Milochka Tshibingu, a Positive Runway model of South African origin, who credits Hindi movies for having kept her out of trouble in her younger days says, 'These kinds of conversations are very important. Makeup and fashion provides a basic language, beyond traditions, for the young. They are always tuned to it. The Positive Runway tunes into that language'.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017