Fashion Fights AIDS

The BORNFREE campaign, dedicated to eliminating the mother-to-child transmission of HIV, launched a collaboration with the fashion world on Wednesday with the help of Diane von Furstenberg and Anna Wintour.


“If you do something, you can make it happen,” fashion designer and CFDA president Diane von Furstenberg said Wednesday evening at the launch of the BORNFREE campaign at her studio in New York City. “It is the very beginning of the end of HIV.”

BORNFREE, which was created by Apax Partners CEO John Mgrue to eradicate the spread of HIV from an infected mother to her newborn by the end of 2015, has enlisted von Furstenberg, along with Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, and Amazon-owned e-tailer ShopBop to grow awareness of the cause.

Twenty three female designers (who are all also mothers) have been commissioned by the campaign to create clothing and accessories—using prints by Kenyan artist Wangechi Mutu—that will be sold exclusively on ShopBop, available on Mother’s Day 2014. Participating fashion moms include Stella McCartney, Donatella Versace, Donna Karan, Phoebe Philo, Marchesa’s Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig, Sarah Burton, and Miuccia Prada.

Following von Furstenberg, US Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, acknowledged how far the fight against HIV has come, and how far it continues to go: “HIV/AIDS used to overwhelm us. When we first encountered the disease in this country and internationally, we lacked everything… In those dark days we were losing the struggle. AIDS orphans had become a separate demographic category,” she said. “The BORNFREE campaign humanizes one of the most vital causes of our time—ensuring that the baton passed from one generation to the next is not tainted by the poison of HIV/AIDS, so that a baby begins his or her life with a fair chance of living it.”

Over 90 percent of HIV-infected children received the disease from some form of mother-to-child contact. With just one pill a day, the BORNFREE campaign explains, there is the potential to completely eliminate this form of transmission. Since 2001, there has been over a 50 percent reduction of children plagued with the disease. And in just 771 days, BORNFREE aims to raise that number to 100 percent.