How wearing red shoes can help educate a community on HIV prevention

The Red Pump Project is a national nonprofit organization that raises awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls. Founded by Luvvie Ajayi(Experts Among Us Advisory Board Member) and Karyn Brianne Lee, the organization uses the red pump as a symbol of empowerment to represent the strength and courage of those affected and infected by HIV/AIDS.

What made you start The Red Pump Project?”

This is the question that people tend to ask us the most. The second most frequently asked question is, “With so many causes and issues in the world, why HIV?” The short answer is HIV continues to affect women of color in a disproportionate way yet people aren’t talking about it. Every 47 minutes, a woman in the United States will be diagnosed with HIV. More than likely, she will be a woman of color.

The Red Pump Project was created out of a desire to empower, educate, and motivate action by boldly driving conversation online and offline around HIV prevention. We use the Red Pump as a symbol of empowerment to represent the strength and courage of women affected by HIV/AIDS. We use red shoes as a conversation starter and while we have people’s attention, we talk about the epidemic.

In March 2009, we tapped into our online networks with a request to feature our custom-designed blog badge on their websites and to devote their social voice to the topic of HIV and women on March 10. Within eight days, over 100 bloggers signed on and our first-ever “Rock the Red Pump®” campaign was entered into the history books.

Both of us had friends who were impacted by HIV and we both had the desire to do something around the issue. “Do something.” Those two words have always been at the core of Red Pump. Every day, we strive to do something or say something to help educate others about HIV. That is how you challenge stigma and bring these important conversations to the forefront.

What started as a small idea has blossomed into a movement that has grown beyond our expectations.Six years later, we are a nonprofit organization witha great team who works incredibly hard at building our presence in Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, New York City, and Washington D.C. We continue to be motivated by the support, honesty, and openness demonstrated by our Red Pump Rockers across the country. With every tweet, blog post, and photo, they are telling the world in their own stylish way that they aren’t afraid to talk about HIV and that they stand with their sisters who have been impacted by this disease. That is beautiful. That is powerful. That is bold.

So, now that you know why we #RocktheRedPump, we want to hear from you. Today begins our annual campaign leading up to National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Over the next ten days, follow along with us on social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) as we highlight personal stories, share educational information, and, of course, rock our red pumps (and flats). After all, AWARENESS IS ALWAYS IN STYLE.


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