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Yesterday, the world began to publicly reminisce about and celebrate the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela, who died on December 5, 2013 at the age of 95. Individuals and organizations have been discussing his life and legacy, including what he did to become a true hero.

Though I probably can’t add any new insights into Mr. Mandela’s life, I can provide links to Encore!-related aspects of his contributions.

The BBC News report, Nelson Mandela death: Aids (sic) campaigner, is an example of reports about Mr. Mandela’s focus on a disease that is also the focus of many public health professionals: HIV/AIDS. Because the spread of the HIV virus is preventable and deadly and affects millions of people, many communities and organizations invest millions of dollars in health education campaigns to reduce its spread.

Nelson Mandela. “Nelson Mandela death: Aids campaigner,” source: BBC News (Africa), 12-6-13

Part of Mr. Mandela’s legacy is the example he set for fighting against injustices and life-threatening issues like HIV/AIDS. Though he has been criticized for not paying more attention to HIV/AIDS as president, he became an active AIDS campaigner after he retired as President in 1999.

As an Encore! example, in 2003, at the age of 85, he lent his voice and status to the MTV documentary called Meeting Mandela, which launched the “Staying Alive” HIV/AIDS awareness campaign: . The film’s Viacom producers intertwined Mandela’s life story with the current lives of four young activists from different countries in a way that showcases all of their struggles and contributions and Mr. Mandela’s related insights.

In the HIV/AIDS segment (which is the first one), we learn about Henry’s efforts to prevent HIV/AIDS in Uganda. Among several lessons, Mandela encourages Henry to continue to fight and to rely on a community of people for success. He also notes the harm caused by stigma, which allows people to treat people with HIV/AIDS as less than human beings….which allows for neglect and cruelty.

As another Encore! example, 46664 (Mr. Mandela’s not-for-profit organization initially aimed at HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness) held a concert on in November 2003 in Cape Town, South Africa. High-profile artists, such as Beyoncé, Baaba Maal and Peter Gabriel, attracted a worldwide television audience of two billion and the resulting funds have supported research and support for South Africans with HIV/AIDS.

Thanks to these and other efforts, we have made great progress in the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS…though millions still die from this disease worldwide each year, including 240,000 in South Africa in 2012. Hopefully, the current outpouring of reminders of Mr. Mandela’s legacy will inspire people to commit or recommit to using all of our creative resources to ensure that EVERYONE has a chance at a healthy life.

To Learn More

Nelson Mandela to Discuss HIV/AIDS with Young People in MTV ‘Staying Alive’ Documentary Kaiser Health News story, May 8, 2003

MTV Staying Alive Foundation

MANDELA: An Audio History, A five-part radio series by Radio Diaries

AIDS campaigners mourn death of Mandela


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