Everybody knows that a red ribbon in December is for HIV/AIDS awareness, and that a pink ribbon in October is for the fight against breast cancer, but where does this colour-coded tradition come from?
The use of ribbons has been around for centuries, originally relating to war campaigns. The US military still uses a yellow ribbon today, often tied onto a tree or door, to show that a family member is away at war.
That tradition has been in popular use since the late 1970s, but ribbons exploded into what we know today in 1991, when AIDS activists adopted the red ribbon for their cause. They were inspired by the immediate efficacy of the yellow ribbon for soldiers, and the method was adopted by many groups after that.
Fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi said in the New York times in 1992: “If you can’t do anything big about AIDS, second best is to appear to do something. That’s why I love the ribbon. It ruins whatever you’re wearing, it doesn’t work compositionally, it’s the wrong color, it throws your hair off, and who cares, because you have human feelings and you’re showing them.”
Because Cipla caters to a wide range of interests, our ribbon campaigns seek to help raise awareness for those illnesses you may not know about, or those that don’t get a lot of media coverage, like epilepsy or asthma, for example.
Did you know that a grey ribbon in May is for allergies and asthma? Or that a gold ribbon in November is for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)? While Cipla does recognise the more famous colours, we want to make sure everyone gets their time in the spotlight.
For example, November is famously a blue ribbon month, and along with moustaches, they seek to raise awareness for prostate and testicular cancer. This is a worthy cause, without a doubt, but we will also be focusing on COPD and epilepsy (a lavender ribbon) for the month.
So keep an eye out for the billboards along the highways throughout the year, or advertisements in the media, to tell you which cause we’re highlighting. And if you’re a Capetonian driving along the N1, you’ll spot our headquarters and see a different colour ribbon on the building every month. If you see a green ribbon in April, think about the environment, and if you see an orange ribbon in September, turn your heart to Leukaemia sufferers.
February: Red (heart disease)
March: Dark blue (colon and colorectal cancer)
April: Green (environment)
May: Grey (asthma and allergies), green (mental illness)
August: White (bone cancer)
September: Orange (Leukaemia)
October: Pink (breast cancer)
November: Gold (COPD) and lavender (epilepsy)
December: Red (AIDS)
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