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Fighting AIDS With Art - 2002-12-24

A South African organization says it “seeks to highlight the challenges of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in a creative and non-conventional manner.” The group is called Positive Art and raises money for HIV-infected children by selling homemade local art featuring the red AIDS ribbon.

Positive Art – which is based in Pretoria – helps support four centers that care for children who have been affected, infected or orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

Kim Bradnick is the coordinator of Positive Art. She says, "The artwork that we have comes from disadvantaged communities. The artists use the communities or the people in the communities or train them. And we purchase the products from them at a fair price, a living wage – a fair trade and tourism type of thing. And then we sell those products with a markup and the profit that we make we donate to homes with children living with HIV/AIDS."

Positive Art was founded in 1998 “to fight stigma associated with HIV/AIDS in a creative manner.” It has four main objectives: Increase the visibility of the AIDS pandemic, support charities that care for children affected by the disease, promote social responsibility of the private sector, and support local artists.

Ms. Bradnick says the artwork consists mainly of pottery, including mugs, candleholders, sugar bowels and pins. Other products include ties, greeting cards, and drinking glasses made out of recycled wine bottles. Prices for the Positive Art products range from one to fifteen US dollars.

She says the products raise money for necessities – but also help children lead more normal lives.

"Trying to supply them with the basic essentials, food and a roof over their head. We do tend to forget but they still need to be children," she says.

The coordinator of Positive Art also says the products help raise the self-esteem of the local artists.

She says, "You just have to mention a high profile person, such as the ex-president of the USA, Bill Clinton. He wore one of our pins and a conference. And, of course, taking it to the community and having them see this, they don’t even want payment. (laughs) If we should get Nelson Mandela to wear one of our pins, I’m sure they won’t want any payment. It’s so good for them."

Kim Bradnick while Positive Art has been a success, she is hoping South African corporations will buy their products. She says such sales would raise a lot of money for children affected by HIV/AIDS.