American hip-hop star, Fergie, has joined forces with a major international cosmetic company to combat the stigma associated with HIV-AIDS in Britain.
Fergie is the face for the MAC Viva Glam campaign that has already dedicated nearly $450,000 to the campaign.
British AIDS groups say the stigma surrounding the illness is the main reason contributing to the spread of the virus in the UK.
Tendi Ndanga came to Britain from Zimbabwe more than a decade ago, and then discovered she was HIV positive. She says it took her a long time to accept it.
"I am the daughter of a priest, so telling someone that I am HIV positive they think 'Oh, so she was sleeping around.' That is what the community will say, they don't even think maybe it was one partner," Ndanga said.
She said the stigma of HIV is overt but she managed to come to terms with her disease after meeting other women living with HIV.
“So it is just accepting that you have a virus and if you learn how to work with or deal with it, start your life again on a positive note. Things will be fine," she said.
Fighting the stigma associated with HIV and AIDS is what brought hip hop singer Fergie, to Britain. At an AIDS charity in London, those suffering from the illness spoke to her about how dangerous the stigma can be.
The people here say that the AIDS stigma can kill because people don't want to get tested out of fear they might be HIV positive.
By the time they find out they are carrying the virus; it may have become full-blown AIDS.
AIDS has devastated large parts of Africa and has also spread around the world. In Britain, 78,000 people are estimated to be suffering from the disease. The virus is transmitted through unprotected sex and dirty intravenous needles, often spread by drug users who share needles.
Caroline Jack is the head of the National AIDS Trust. She says it is hard culturally for Britons to talk about AIDS. "In Britain we are notorious for being uptight and not talking about sex. Billboards can be full of posters of people hardly wearing any clothes but people will just not talk openly and honestly about sex,” she said. “I think good open, honest sexual relations education is actually really important to tackling this. If we are more comfortable talking about sex, we will be more comfortable talking about HIV."
AIDS Awareness is a key aim in MAC's campaign.And organizers say one hundred percent of the sale price of every Viva Glam lip product will go directly to its AIDS fund.
Fergie says it is an issue that is important to her. "This campaign is important to me personally because I have friends who are living with HIV/ AIDS and people who have passed with the disease. So, for me it is a very important issue."
Through this high-profile lipstick campaign, Fergie hopes to put the issue of AIDS on everyone's lips.