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HIV/AIDS Resource Center for African Americans
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13 Moments in Black Celebrity HIV/AIDS Activism

February 7, 2013


Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela Founds "46664" (2002)

Nelson Mandela is a world-famous anti-apartheid activist and politician who was president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. Mandela was sentenced to life in prison in 1964 and given the prison number 46664 ("four double six six four"), as he was the 466th prisoner at the Robben Island prison in the year 1964. In 1994, four years after his release from prison, Nelson Mandela became the president of South Africa, which has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the entire world. Mandela often says his biggest regret during his presidency was not paying enough attention to the AIDS epidemic -- and the AIDS epidemic hit him personally in 2005 when his son passed away.

Since the end of his presidency, he has become an extremely outspoken AIDS activist, and has founded the 46664 Foundation. Mandela gave his prison number to the organization "as a permanent reminder of the sacrifices he was prepared to make for a humanitarian and social just cause he passionately believed in." In attempting to engage youth all over the world, 46664 has been responsible for high-profile 46664 concerts over the past few years. Concerts have been held in South Africa, Spain, Norway and London, featuring very high profile acts like Beyonce, U2, Annie Lennox and Jimmy Cliff.

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