Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Scarlett's Journey to Africa

Scarlett Johansson is just returning from a trip to Rwanda on behalf of (RED), an organization that helps in the fight against HIV and AIDS, and she's speaking out about what she's taken away from the experience.

"I came here with an open mind," Scarlett said in a statement released Tuesday, "wanting to listen, understand and learn; I leave with the overwhelming understanding that the small action of making a (RED) choice in your purchases in the West has an enormous impact on the lives of people in countries like Rwanda."

Scarlett visited with HIV sufferers as well as medical professionals, and noted, "It was important for me to come here and understand the issue we're up against firsthand. It's not until you've had the privilege of meeting healthcare providers who are fighting the daily battle, heard from people who are now getting antiretroviral drugs to stay alive, and met mothers whose babies are born healthy because they received treatment that stopped transmission of HIV, that you understand that we absolutely can do something to reverse the AIDS crisis in African countries."

Sourcing figures from UN Aids Report and the Global Fund, (RED) reports that HIV/AIDS rates have dropped in Rwanda from 5% of the population in 2003 to 3% in 2007. As a result of (RED) funds, 17,000 people have received antiretroviral drugs, and 408,000 women have received counseling and services to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the disease during pregnancy.

(RED) partners with retailers to raise money for the Global Fund, which fights AIDS in Africa, focusing particularly on women and children affected by the disease. The program has raised $110 million since 2006 and the funds are at work in Rwanda, Swaziland, Ghana and Lesotho. To learn more and find out how you can help, visit

This isn't the only good cause socially conscious Scarlett has given her time to lately -- she just recently took part in the multi-channel telethon, Stand Up to Cancer, on September 5. You can catch Scarlett in theaters now in her second Woody Allen film, 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona,' along with Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem.

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