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Positive message about HIV/AIDS

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Annie Lennox's positive message
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Annie Lennox: I wear "HIV Positive" T-shirt to show my support for fighting the virus
  • She says she became committed to the cause after hearing Nelson Mandela speak about it
  • Lennox says the goal is to end mother-to-child transmission of HIV by 2015.
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Oxford, England (CNN) -- Singer-songwriter Annie Lennox proudly wears an "HIV Positive" black T-shirt, proclaiming her solidarity with the disease's victims, even though her status is HIV negative.

"I constantly want to bring attention to the issue," says Lennox. "This is my way of campaigning visually."

At the TED Global conference last month in Oxford, England, Lennox made clear in a talk and an interview with CNN.com that she is seriously committed to combating the spread of the disease.

She was inspired by Nelson Mandela's statement of support in 2003 for the effort to fight the virus by the 46664 Foundation, named after Mandela's number in prison.

South Africa was losing 1,000 people a day to AIDS, many of them women and children. Mandela compared the death toll to genocide.

"I'm a woman, and I'm a mother, I told myself that this is something that I have to talk about," Lennox said.

In her talk at the conference attended by about 700 people, she told the story of a seven-year-old girl in South Africa suffering from the disease and weighing about what a one-year-old child weighs.

After the girl was treated and put on a special diet by doctors, she recovered, looking like a child her age. "The hair on my arms is standing," Lennox, said as she showed before and after photos of the girl. "Isn't it extraordinary?"

An ambassador for U.N. AIDS, she said the organization is committed to ending mother-to-child transmission of HIV by 2015.

TED is a nonprofit organization that hosts conferences and makes talks available on its site, http://www.ted.com/. [CNN and TED have a partnership in which TEDTalks are published Tuesdays on CNN.com.]

The Scottish pop music artist gained fame performing with Dave Stewart as the Eurythmics and has gone on to a successful solo career and many music awards.

In 2007, Lennox organized a group of 23 female performers to make "Sing" as a benefit recording for the fight against HIV/AIDS. It has raised more than 100,000 pounds (about $159,000 U.S. dollars). Lennox was honored with the Services to Humanity Award in 2008 by the British Red Cross.

Lennox sees people in developed Western countries living in a bubble of great privilege where they have a responsibility to help those who are not as fortunate. She says she aims to use her skills and influence to help make that happen.

Ultimately, Lennox says, the fight against HIV/AIDS is not about charity but about securing human rights.