HIV continues to affect the lives of many even today, physiologically as well as psychologically. Although medical interventions continue to work on finding the optimal cure or treatment for AIDS or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, most people who have been tested HIV positive, tend to turn recluse and ostracise themselves from the others, mostly because of the stigma attached to the disease. Time and again, awareness programmes and medical associations assert that people should not give up hope and continue living their lives like others do, and one of the most prominent symbols used to convey the same is, the red ribbon.
The Red Ribbon Project was created in the year 1991, by New York-based Visual Aids Artists Caucus, and the image was made copyrights-free. The year 2016 marks the 25th year of the symbol, made with the purpose of generating consciousness and compassion among people who tested HIV positive and who are suffering from AIDS, and also among their loved ones supporting them.
The Red Ribbon Project is known to be inspired by the yellow coloured ribbons that were used to pay respect to the soldiers who fought in the Gulf War.
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The makers chose the colour red because it best represents compassion and love, and was associated the most with blood. But before deciding on the colour red, the creators also contemplated using friendly colours like pink and rainbow stripes. But because both colours were popularly associated with the LGBTQ community, to avoid perpetuating further stigma, they chose red.
The loop shape of the ribbon was chosen because of its simplicity — anybody could make a loop from a small piece of red ribbon and pinning it on themselves.
Jeremy John Irons is known to have worn the ribbon for the first time in public, while hosting the Tony Awards held in 1991. Thereafter, the symbol came to be increasingly associated internationally with HIV and AIDS awareness.