Fashion Community launches campaign against transmission of HIV

Friday, 22 November 2013

A new fashion initiative was launched this week to stop mother-to-baby HIV transmission by the end of 2015. The Born Free campaign was started by John Megrue, CEO at Apax Partners, and is headed by Diane von Furstenburg, designer and president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief at Vogue and Condé Nast creative director, Ethiopian model and designer Liya Kebede and Brazilian top model Gisele Bündchen. The team has enlisted the help of 23 female designers, who happen to be mother themselves, to design a limited edition Born Free collection.

“If you do something, you can make it happen,” said Diane von Furstenburg during the launch of the new campaign, which was held at her studio in New York City. “It is the very beginning of the end of HIV.”

The special collection will be exclusively sold on this coming spring and includes apparel and accessories for both mothers and children. Designers who agreed to contribute to the initiative include established fashion names such as Tory Burch, Victoria Beckham, Sarah Burton, Stella McCartney, Donna Karan and Vera Wang. Each designer was requested to use two specially custom created prints, made just for the initiative by Kenyan artist Wangechi Mutu. All of the proceeds from the Born Free collection will support programs fighting to create a generation born without HIV.

John Megrue added that he was “thrilled that the fashion community has so generously added their time, talent, and voice to our collective efforts to meet the serious, but achievable, challenge of eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV by December 31, 2015." He concluded, "The private sector is committed to working in partnership with the global health community to meet this goal."

Although mother-to-baby HIV transmission is virtual none existed in Europe and the US, it is still a big issue in sub-Saharan countries. In 2012 it was found that 260,000 children were newly infected with HIV. With just one pill a day, 98 percent of mother-to-baby HIV transmission can be prevented.