Nelson Mandela, Musicians Unite for HIV/AIDS Awareness, Fundraising Campaign
Former South African President Nelson Mandela on Tuesday launched a worldwide phone and Internet campaign to raise awareness and money to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa, Reuters reports (Majendie, Reuters, 10/21). The international initiative, called "46664" after Mandela's prisoner number during his nearly 20-year incarceration at the South African prison on Robben Island, urges people to call a premium-rate phone number -- a different one for each of the 17 countries to be involved in the program -- or visit the initiative's Web site to hear a celebrity message and not-yet-released songs from recording artists. Callers will also be able to hear the song "46664 (Long Walk to Freedom)" which was written by the Eurythmics' Dave Stewart, the late Joe Strummer of the Clash and Bono about Mandela and was released on Tuesday. Callers and visitors to the Web site are also registered as supporters of a petition that calls on all world governments to "declare a global AIDS emergency," the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports. Although the details have not yet been established, the campaign plans to donate a portion of the proceeds from the phone calls to the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the AP/Sun reports (Garland, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 10/21). The initiative will also include a concert on Nov. 29 that will air on MTV on Dec. 1, which is World AIDS Day, BBC News reports. Bono, Beyonce and Queen are scheduled to headline the concert, which will also feature performances by Anastacia and Ms. Dynamite, among others. A CD and DVD of the concert are expected to be released early next year to benefit the campaign (BBC News, 10/21). Mandela said, "46664 was my prison number for over 18 years. I was known as just a number. Millions of people today infected with AIDS are classified as just a number. They too are serving a prison sentence for life" (Reuters, 10/21). "That's why for the first time I am allowing my prison number...to brand this campaign," he said, adding, "A tragedy of unprecedented proportions is unfolding in Africa. We must act now for the sake of the world. AIDS is no longer a disease, it is a human rights issue" (BBC News, 10/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.