By Paurvi Bhatt, Senior Director of Strategic Health Initiatives at Levi Strauss & Co.
Thirty years ago, leaders and employees at Levi Strauss & Co., facing the loss of colleagues and friends, came together to support each other and raise awareness about HIV and AIDS. We were one of the first companies to do so. A few years later, in 1987, our employees joined others in remembering our affected colleagues by creating an AIDS Memorial Quilt panel. It was a small step in the wake of tremendous loss, but it symbolized our commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS.
Now, after three decades of leading the business response to HIV/AIDS, Levi Strauss & Co. is proud to present our new panel for the AIDS Memorial Quilt. This time, the panel represents our commitment to end HIV/AIDS in our lifetime. It captures the voice of this generation of Levi Strauss & Co. employees – committed and ready to create an HIV-free future.
The panel itself is a patchwork of recycled denim. It displays the words of our employees from around the world – particularly the stories of our retail employees in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Brazil. They’ve dedicated the panel to The NAMES Project on behalf of our greater global employee population.
Both new and old quilt panels will be displayed at the National Mall, along with thousands of other quilt panels and in Session Room 1 at AIDS 2012. We’re honored that AIDS 2012 has chosen our panels to greet the more than 20,000 conference attendees as they assemble to learn, debate, and discuss how we all can put an end to HIV/AIDS.
We believe the end of HIV/AIDS is in sight, but only if we all get involved, know the facts and respect each other. That’s why we’re tapping into the stories of The NAMES Project to raise awareness among our employees and consumers. We’ll do so by sending our quilt panels “on the road.” They’ll travel from Washington, D.C., to Levi’s® retail stores and offices around the world before finally arriving at Levi Strauss & Co. headquarters in San Francisco in December.
The journey of the quilt panels honors 30 years of the company’s own journey of support, commitment and leadership in addressing HIV/AIDS worldwide. Our initial grassroots education effort has evolved into a comprehensive corporate strategy to address HIV/AIDS in the workplace and around the world through education, policy change and human rights advocacy.
We support our employees and their dependents through access to HIV/AIDS education, testing, treatment and care services. In communities around the world, we protect the human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS and support related services for apparel workers in factories that make our products. And, in advocating for the rights of at-risk populations, we support programs that prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and work to improve access to care through insurance reform.
Levi Strauss & Co. and the Levi Strauss Foundation, proud sponsors of the International AIDS Conference, have contributed more than $60 million in grants to HIV/AIDS service organizations in more than 40 countries.
Learn how Levi Strauss & Co. is addressing HIV/AIDS by visiting our Web site.
Paurvi Bhatt is the Senior Director of Strategic Health Initiatives at Levi Strauss & Co. and leads strategic company initiatives that address frontier health issues and workplace efforts, including the company’s global employee HIV/AIDS program.