Actor Brad Pitt Visits Ethiopia as Part of HIV/AIDS Fundraising Campaign

Actor Brad Pitt spent four days in Ethiopia this week as a part of a fundraising campaign that aims to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa, the AP/Yahoo! News reports. During the visit, Pitt met with local HIV/AIDS organizations and eight Ethiopian singers who have collaborated on songs aimed at educating people about the disease and raising money for health programs. "It was a listening and learning visit," Jamie Drummond, spokesperson for the debt, trade and AIDS advocacy organization DATA -- which organized Pitt's visit -- said. Pitt arrived in the country Friday and left Monday night. "He was very humble and really interested in the situation here," Ethiopian singer Tsedenia Gebremarkos said, adding, "We hope his popularity can raise awareness in the same way we are trying to. We need the support of people like him" (Mitchell, AP/Yahoo! News, 11/9). Following Pitt's visit, former South African President Nelson Mandela made him a special ambassador for his "46664" campaign (BBC News, 11/10). Mandela launched "46664" -- named after his prison number during his nearly 20-year incarceration at the South African prison on Robben Island -- in October 2003 as a phone and Internet campaign to raise awareness and money to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/8). "AIDS is a tragedy that affects us all," Pitt said, adding, "The world cannot be allowed to stand by any longer and just watch this disaster ... unfold." He also called on pharmaceutical companies to lower the cost of antiretroviral drug treatment and said that governments should increase funding for HIV/AIDS research. He added that people should "educate ourselves and our friends" (BBC News, 11/10).

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