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What Would the End of AIDS Mean to You?


… the end of sadness for many people around the world

… saving a lot of lives including my good friend

… a cure for my step sister and her little girl, so they can have happy full lives

These are the very heartfelt answers we received when we polled Levi’s® retail employees from the US, Canada, Mexico and Brazil about what the end of AIDS would mean to them.

On Saturday, we unveiled our second AIDS Memorial Quilt panel to the public on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., at the International AIDS Conference, the most attended HIV/AIDS conference in the world.

The new panel, a patchwork composed of recycled Levi’s® jeans and denim, conveys the stories of our employees. Blue, screen-printed ink on the front of the panel captures quotes from around the world, echoing themes of hope and of a better, safer world. The back side of the quilt shares longer stories about what the end of HIV/AIDS would mean to our employees.

Levi Strauss & Co.’s first AIDS Memorial panel was crafted in 1988 to honor our colleagues impacted by HIV/AIDS. Displayed together, these two panels bookend Levi Strauss & Co.’s thirty year commitment to the fight against HIV/AIDS. The quilts serve as a powerful memorial to our friends and colleagues, as a shared vision of an AIDS-free future, and as a reminder of all we have learned about prevention and handling HIV/AIDS related issues.

Our company’s leadership on this issue began in 1982, when our then-CEO Robert Haas and other  leaders stood side-by-side with employee volunteers in the company’s headquarters and distributed information about HIV/AIDS, an unknown but potentially deadly disease. This was a courageous act during a time of fear and misinformation, and it set the tone for HIV/AIDS responses by the corporate community.

Today, that same grassroots education effort has evolved into a comprehensive corporate strategy to address HIV/AIDS in the workplace and around the world through education, policy change and human rights advocacy. We’ve also shared best practices from our industry-leading HIV/AIDS education with other companies and industries.

And we’re proud to be sharing our history of leadership with our consumers – we’re sending both of our AIDS Memorial Quilt panels on the road to retail stores and offices where our employees have positively impacted communities through service to HIV/AIDS related non-profit organizations. The quilts will return home to the Levi Strauss & Co. headquarters in San Francisco, just in time for World AIDS Day on December 1, 2012, where they will be on display and available for viewing by the public.

Have a story to share with us? Tweet to @Levis using #AIDSQuilt.

Enrique “Quique” Atienza is the Senior Vice President, Retail Americas and Global Store Operations and Training COE lead at Levi Strauss & Co.and is responsible for more than 250 store locations. As an active advocate of HIV/AIDS issues and equal rights, Quique has volunteered with and supported many organizations including the American Foundation for AIDS Research and the Human Rights Campaign. He has spearheaded a culture of community involvement within the Levi’s® U.S. Retail division that has contributed thousands of hours in giving back.

Unveiling the AIDS Memorial Quilt on Saturday, July 21.

Unveiling the AIDS Memorial Quilt on Saturday, July 21.

Patrick Holzfaster of Levi Strauss & Co. on stage during the quilt ceremony, where he spoke in front of 2,000 people.

Patrick Holzfaster of Levi Strauss & Co. on stage during the quilt ceremony, where he spoke in front of 2,000 people.

Our first quilt, from 1988, memorializing our colleagues and friends.

Our first quilt, from 1988, memorializing our colleagues and friends.

Levi Strauss & Co. colleagues Joanne Lim-Pousard, Patrick Holzfaster and Paurvi Bhatt.

Levi Strauss & Co. colleagues Joanne Lim-Pousard, Patrick Holzfaster and Paurvi Bhatt.

Umbrellas at the quilt opening ceremony.

Umbrellas at the quilt opening ceremony.