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Lennox: HIV/AIDS crisis "breaks my heart"

March 13th, 2010
08:42 PM ET

(CNN) – The HIV virus and AIDS, the debilitating condition it causes, are the leading killers of women of reproductive age in the world, the singer and activist Annie Lennox told CNN in an interview aired Friday.

“The world needs to wake up and realize that the HIV/AIDS pandemic has changed its face since the 1980’s. It has been affecting women and children at an enormous rate,” Lennox told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

“As a woman and a mother myself, I want to contribute to keeping this issue on the table. HIV is invisible”, she added.

“You have swine flu, you have bird flu, and everybody is up in arms. But this has been a killer for years and it’s not getting any better.”

Lennox this month went to the United Nations headquarters in New York to help launch a five-year action plan to provide recommendations on how to address the disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls worldwide.

Health officials acknowledge that great strides been made addressing HIV/AIDS as a whole. But they say when it comes to women and girls, the world has made little progress.

Lennox said her intention is not to shock, but to break stigmas on the subject, by using the power of her music.

“Music is a great vehicle for communications, and I have a certain platform. I have an opportunity and I have to take it”, she said.

“As a woman, and as a mother and as an artist, it’s something that I feel compelled to do. Otherwise it would be a complete waste.”

Lennox said she has been very focused on this issue since she heard former South African President Nelson Mandela describe HIV/AIDS as ‘genocide’ in 2003.

“To hear Mandela describe the HIV pandemic as a genocide really almost knocked me off my chair”, she said.

“You know in South Africa, post-apartheid, one in every three pregnant women is carrying HIV.  That is hugely significant. If they don’t have intervention, the baby will be born with the virus. That baby will probably last, maybe a year.”

Lennox added that a woman is raped every minute in South Africa, a country that is believed to have more people infected with HIV/AIDS than any other nation.

“You’re seeing women especially, and young girls and young children, right at the front of the devastation. And it breaks my heart.”

Asked whether she thinks the next generation will take up the HIV/AIDS issue as energetically as she has, Lennox said, “Unless people campaign in civil society, unless governments and leaderships campaign and keep the issue on the table, it’s very hard to say.”


Filed under:  1 • AIDS • Science
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Bruno Auer

    Hello. I live in Paris, and just watched today's show which featured three fascinating interviews. I tuned in towards the end of the first part, with Israeli writer Amos Oz, but was able to see the interview with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his daughter. I didn't even know that he had a daughter who had followed in his footsteps. They were inspirational. Then I watched the Annie Lennox interview. WOW. She spoke so movingly and passionately about her fight to promote HIV/AIDS awareness: it was the icing on the cake of one of the best Amanpour shows yet. Well done, Christiane and the team. Please give us more shows like that one! All the best to you, Bruno Auer (English teacher in Paris, France)

    March 12, 2010 at 9:19 pm | Reply
  2. Thot

    Annie is an amazing singer and songwriter. Lover her since Eurythmics, and admire her time devotion to help the cause of HIV/AIDS.
    From "Here comes the rain again" , "Little Bird" or her amazing version of "A whiter shade of pale" (one of my music wonders of the world), Annie is all talent and unique voice.

    March 12, 2010 at 9:55 pm | Reply
  3. sue new york

    Good interview!!! Annie is well spoken and passionate about the Hiv/Aids crisis. Yes, break the stigma. It is a virus and can infect/affect us all. Good on you for speaking out Annie!!!

    March 13, 2010 at 12:48 am | Reply
  4. Yakubu MAGAJI , From Bauchi State- NIGERIA.

    Dear mlle. Amanpour,you know one thing ?.
    I agree that music is a great vehicle for communication but,I wish they were using the opportunity to preach to the people about the seriousness and danger of promiscuity with their music in the world ?.
    As long as people don't appreciate the fact that,there is God and that one day each and every one of us ,will appear before the judgment seat of God,and that every one may receive the things done in his body,according to that he has done,whether it be good or bad.
    and as long as we think and still hold the view that ,I can do what I want with my body ,and that sex is for pleasure only and not for marriage and honesty to our partners, we remain vulnerable to this devil's most powerful weapon to human weakness for forever until death do us part.

    Yakubu MAGAJI
    Bauchi State -Nigeria.

    March 13, 2010 at 1:30 am | Reply
  5. Yakubu MAGAJI , From Bauchi State- NIGERIA.

    Christiane !,
    The major issue for determination is not the 600-page Fatwa against Terrorism.The issue here is spiritual and not carnal take it or leave it. No amount of pages of books in this world that will ever stop terrorism and extremism. I dont know why people dont want to face reality.
    The weapons of this warfare,is not carnal,though we work in the flesh, but we do not war after the flesh.The Libyan leader,made his comment while speaking at a meeting to mark the birthday of the prophet Mohammed (S.A.S.)" Let us wage jihad against Switzerland ,Zionist,and foreign agression.he said in February 2010. He went further to say that "Any muslim in any part of the world,who works with Switzerland,is an apostate,is against Mohammed,Allah and the Koran."
    Christiane, So if you want to solve this kinds of cases,to stop his ideological orientation you now write 900-page fatwa ? The problem is not Ghadafi as Libyan president,but the problem is the person on the inside of him . No philosopher,no writer,or scholar 's book can stop this man's ideology. In early 1984 Imam AYATOLA KHOMEINI said,The purest joy in Islam,is to kill and be killed for Allah. and in order to achieve the victory of Islam in the world, we need to provoke repeated crises restore value to the idea of death,if Iran has to vanish that is not important,what is important is to engulf the world into crises. So you think it is possible to write,1000-page Ratwa to stop this man or advise him? the man who , sleeps with the koran every night and day ?.
    Common stop that carnal fight and idea if you dont want to face the root cause of their mental and spiritual possessions,otherwise you dont even begin dream about books.

    Yakubu MAGAJI
    Bauchi-state Nigeria.

    March 13, 2010 at 2:32 am | Reply
  6. Dr Ratstar

    Let us not forget that the Pope has condemned the use of condoms in Africa.

    March 13, 2010 at 6:23 am | Reply
  7. Gilaze

    The stigma of HIV in the latino/hispanic community, which I can attest to from personal experience, is really tragic, here in the USA.

    The first obvious reasons there is stigma, is of course the macho element in heterosexual males in this community. From a female side its the stigma that those struck by this decease are of lesser social/economic standing and must be like Annie states, intravenous drug users, prostitutes, etc...outcasts of some sort.

    The worst part of this is that latinos simply push the problem under the rug. Its simply NOT discussed in an open, fair and progressive manner when someone dies of HIV that was a family man, a hard working person. Its instantly assumed they were homosexual and so on, then its gossiped about with no real discussion.

    And if it is, I can attest first hand that its done in a gossipy, exclusionary, shameful way. Women gossip about who died in the neighborhood, but both male and females simply move on, thinking that was enough. It's tragic. TRAGIC how latinos/hispanics simply DO NOT want to discuss and broaden the awareness. Tragic. I attended a funeral of someone that died of HIV, people were allowed to say anything. The moment I wanted to go up there and just tell those latino men who are alcoholic and irresponsible I was held by the arm and hushed. It was like a wall I could not even begin to push at and tear down. I was frozen in disappointment.

    Most spanish only latino males act irresponsibly. They frequent bars and may get involved with promiscuous women who are also share some of the macho like views and superhuman like attitudes of not being at risk. I shiver when I see nightclubs and think how none of them are taking HIV seriously.

    Churches in these communities, shamefully, do not address the issue. Could it be a gay stigma that hispanic based churches have which I believe also contribute to the shameful/hush, hush attitudes about HIV/AIDS, actually contribute to a cultural pandemic??? I believe it does. And the problem will continue to grow.

    But the popular culture/mass media at large, whom you'd think would be a little more sophisticated and responsible maybe, does a horrid job at bringing awareness of HIV. I read men's health magazines and some articles about sex and socializing hardly ever cover protection, awareness, caution and responsibility. Its appalling.

    But ultimately its ignorance that simply is killing people.

    March 13, 2010 at 10:50 am | Reply
  8. kristin

    Annie is a brave artist who's heart in known, In music and in issues of grave consciousness. To her efforts I applaud her. It's always nice to
    hear her communicating on these problems we face. Annie can articulate well, and point out that we're so all effected by the lack of caring for the issues and one another. Thanks for this posting.
    🙂 On a side note this blog rocks!! Thanks Kristin.

    March 13, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Reply
  9. Sylvie

    I live in Oakland, California and saw the interview with Annie Lennox. She was in Mexico City for the International AIDS Conference in 2008, and she spoke on behalf of women and HIV. I thank her for her passion and compassion, but unless the governments and the world confront the stigma of this insidious disease will there be a curb in infections. Women are the ones being impacted by this disease being the new and larger percentages of infections. Families are affected and need support also. I thank her for her voice which hopefully brings the awareness and wipes away the stigma of this disease.

    March 14, 2010 at 7:04 pm | Reply
  10. Holly Young

    I think it was pretty insensitive to post a question as stupid and worthless as "What's your favorite song". Who cares!! Why doesn't someone ask a question about the AIDS issue in the world like "What more can we do to make people more aware of the issue and the magnitude of it's effect on our existance as a people". I applaud Annie for not letting this issue fall between the cracks. I applaud you for having her on your show but I think you should have come up with a more compelling question than "what's your favorite song". That, to me, seemed like a slap in Annie's face and rude on your part.

    March 14, 2010 at 7:21 pm | Reply
  11. Tomás Brewster

    While I am sure that my post will be CENSORED BY CNN , I'll go ahead and at least try to comment anyway.

    Annie Lennox is no different than any other celebrity who has become a world renown "HIV" celebrity expert. Peddling pharmaceuticals and misinformation across the globe, Lennox who is a TAC representitive and advocate of the African Holocaust sure has the public fooled by her campaign. In one breath Lennox quotes a set of bogus statistics and then says "HIV" has been invisible, this is no different than an article CNN banished in 2004 where the Centers for Disease Control launced an article with CNN that "HIV hasn't budged in a decade".

    Lennox like Bono, and Elton John have caused more problems in the media with such campaigns, The World Health Organization know that noone in the world is at any major risk for "HIV". The Political movement for HIV/AIDS love these classic Retro-Celebrities to do their dirty work for them. Miss Lennox has no background in" HIV and AIDS" and her campaign should be questioned at every opportunity.

    Africa like so many countries are in desperate need of fresh water, food, better housing and basic medications for older diseases that have naturally been rampant. In a country where "HIV" antibody testing is not even necessary for diagnosis and the cry for deadly Antiretroviral drugs is "top priority", this is deceptive thinking

    Lennox says: "HIV/AIDS" "It breaks my heart" yet "AIDS" is somewhere down to like #15 on the so called pandemic list while many diseases such as Heart Disease are the number one killer.
    http://edition.cnn.com/2006/HEALTH/10/30/heart.overview/index.html

    where is the global campaign for that? Prostate Cancer? Alzheimers? MD? The diseases that are the most deadliest get less attention.

    I believe the people who call into question of these self styled celebrity "HIV" experts who are putting the wrong efforts into solving poverty and starvation in these countries will do the world a better service.

    misinformation is wrong and should be told on the rooftops.

    HIV/AIDS is invisible because there is no threat. "HIV"antibody testing is the epidemic not "HIV".

    March 14, 2010 at 9:18 pm | Reply
  12. gregory cleveland

    Thank you CNN and Amanpour for allowing Annie to share her
    most important message. I know now that the hiv virus issue
    should be right up there in the health care debate...Bravo

    March 14, 2010 at 10:02 pm | Reply
  13. Varnia

    So, what's her favorite Annie Lennox song?

    March 14, 2010 at 10:39 pm | Reply
  14. J.Mora

    If you put in google earth ( in search) 12 21 20 12
    like coord..they bring you to Africa ) Niger
    That.s mind something...!!!

    March 15, 2010 at 2:29 am | Reply
  15. Rejoice, From Abia State - Nigeria.

    The interview was great and indept. Daily we are told about the havoc HIV/AIDS is recking on humanity, actions taken to prevent its upsurge, but there remainth one thing – effective law against promiscuity.

    The city of Sodom and Gomorroh was wiped out the plate earth by the Almighty because of immorality, while then are we linient in punishing those crusaders of promiscuity. May be man in whose care God committed the earth upon, to rule and dominate has failed Him, He then decided to use HIV/AIDS to call man to order.

    As it was in the days of Noah, men were being called to order and they gave no hid until... So unless there's a total turn around of humanity to God, AIDS will continue dealing with man the last day.

    March 15, 2010 at 9:41 am | Reply
  16. Nadine

    Thank you for a wonderful programme. I try to watch as many as I can. Yesterday's was especially interesting for me.

    All the guests were people who are advocating for a cause that they connect with personally. Viewers need to be aware of this and stay away from the negativity that Mr. Brewster and others tend to engage in. Yes, even celebrities can be led astray by a flawed philosophy or NGO or whatever.

    I work in public health and am not pleased that the Chronic Non-communicable Diseases (CNCD) such as diabetes and hypertension do not get even a fraction of the funding and advocacy as the Communicable diseases.

    However, we need to keep in mind that when a celebrity advocates a cause, it is a (personal) campaign of an issue that resounds to that person. Another important point is that one person cannot champion every issue. Even I am not crazy enough to try that and I work with a WHO country office as a Health Promotion Officer. I advocate healthy diets and physical activity, school health and early screening for the chronic diseases. It breaks my heart to see some of the activities of the HIV/AIDS programmes.

    I agree with Annie, a large part of the contunied problem with HIV is the way it was and is being adressed. The results would suggest that we need to change the way the disease is handled. Throwing the huge amounts of money would not fix much since most of that money may not ever get to the actual programme administration.

    So while we need to advocate for increased awareness and action of the Communicable Diseases (the sexually transmitted diseases and respiratory diseases etc.) we need to be conscious of the Chronic Diseases and their impacts on health and the future health of the world's population.

    March 15, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Reply
  17. Hugh (Bart) Vincelette

    I'd like to comment after seeing the interview with Anne Lennox about her work combatting HIV/AIDS. I'd like also to commend Ms. Lennox for the work she does & Christiane Amanpour for doing the interview.
    I'm a Canadian man living in Vancouver , but I was residing in San Diego during the early years of the epidemic. I have , through the years ; buried fifty-eight friends to the complications of AIDS. I tested positive myself at the beginning of it all , but due to "as yet not clearly understood"genetic factors ; I didn't take sick until a few years ago.By that time , of course , we had anti-viral medications available. When HIV first appeared , there was nothing.
    I know that commercial TV has to tread lightly on certain subjects , out of the fear of losing sponsors & the possibility of boycotts , but it is a pity , to say the least ; that a rarely referred to truth doesn't come into play in discussions about the chronology of AIDS. During the early years of this crisis , the religious right ; largely under the umbrella of the "Moral Majority', fought successfully in opposing the use of any public funds for HIV research. The subsequent delay in acquiring effective treatment options denied thousands even a fighting chance at survival.
    Today , of course , they pat themselves on the back for the programs they have initiated for the victims of AIDS. But the sad truth is ; they took no interest in assisting those with AIDS until heterosexual Africa became decimated. Africa is , as we all know ; their new recruiting grounds ; Uganda being a good example.
    There is a culpability here that will never be punished , but it should at least be acknowledged . Thank you for your attention.

    March 17, 2010 at 12:43 am | Reply
  18. Tomás Brewster

    Nadine said:" Viewers need to be aware of this and stay away from the negativity that Mr. Brewster and others tend to engage in."

    Miss Nadine could you please elaborate?

    You should be the subject here not Lennox, you said yourself:

    "I work in public health and am not pleased that the Chronic Non-communicable Diseases (CNCD) such as diabetes and hypertension do not get even a fraction of the funding and advocacy as the Communicable diseases."

    so basically you admit that what I said was not negative and actually true. Since you work in Public Health and have the credentials (at least I hope) apart from Lennox, why aren't you doing the work.

    I simply disagree that we should allow stars such as Sharon Stone, Annie Lennox, Elton John, Bono, and hundreds of others to be Celebrity AIDS Experts. They are Hollywood actors and Retro 80's musicians. Not Scientists or Doctors.

    Let them make a donation and stay out of the Science.

    March 17, 2010 at 2:16 am | Reply
  19. Nadine

    Work with me here Tomas. Your posts are highly emotional and valid.
    Re-read your third paragraph. You made personal attacks on celebrities for raising awareness to the topic. Do you have a right to question their actions? Absolutely. But tell me the names of the scientists that have spoken and published on any disease that a large population of the world knows. We are enarmoured with celebrities and that is why the media and organizations use them on issues.

    I don't want to be the subject, I want the diseases to be the subject.

    I am doing the work. Re-read my post. We can't all be working on the same issue because there are so many.

    Do you educate your friends about issues? Because that is the kind of advocacy we need to address health issues. People need to realize that as individuals we have to make the decisions to live healthy lifestyles.

    I do hope that people take media reports as what they are and not absolutes. Because we both know that the story can be read from so many angles.

    Cheers.

    March 17, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Reply
  20. Leonard de la Paor

    Sodomites are handicapped! They are directionally challenged!! They do things ARSE WAYS!!!

    AIDS & STDS are all about perverted people doing stupid things! If they would study human biology & reco

    March 17, 2010 at 6:15 pm | Reply
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  24. Dua Lipa

    The song is so great. Such a strong meaning Dua Lipa – Dreams lyrics

    August 19, 2021 at 6:56 am | Reply
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      I found the lyrics for the Dua Lipa – Dreams lyrics song https://showmelyrics.com/lyrics/dua-lipa-dreams

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