Bono Seeing 'Red' Over AIDS

American Express marketing chief John Hayes said the new American Express card — whose backside proclaims the goal of "eliminating" HIV in Africa — will transfer 1 percent of all purchases made with it to the project.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Bono alluded to the potential discomfort with his new alliances.

"Some people will be very upset," he said. "We're working with big business, we're working with big companies ... (But) the problem just has to be sorted and we can't do it just with governments alone.

"We're fighting a fire. The house is burning down," he said. "Let's get the water. You end up beside somebody who lives up the road who you don't really like. Do you really care if he's polishing up his image (by) putting the fire out?"

At the news conference in Davos, Bono added, "Maybe we can, if not go mainstream with our issues, let's be slipstream. Let's surf on the back of the wake of these companies. And, I tell you, it won't be long before our surfboard is moving at its own speed, on its own wave."

Richard Feachem, executive director of the Global Fund, said that to date, "a very small proportion" of the fund's current $4.7 billion comes from corporations or individuals, but that he had concluded that depending on governments was not enough.

The Global Fund was created to finance a dramatic turn-around in the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. To date, the fund has committed funding to 128 countries to fight the three diseases.

"We've announced today a launch with four companies (but) we need 400," he said, adding that success would also depend on whether American Express extends the Red card line to the United States as well.

He said he hoped Red would generate "tens of millions of dollars soon, hundreds of millions of dollars a little further downstream. Significant money."

"If we succeed," Bono interjected. "But we could fail. If people are jaded or cynical ... or genuinely not interested, then we fail. But we've tried. I think we've come up with a sexy, smart, savvy idea that will save people's lives.

"It is sexy to want to change the world, not to leave it as it is."

Tuesday in Baden-Baden, Germany, Bono was presented with the German
Media Prize for 2005. The jury of German editors in chief honored Bono for his "tireless struggle against poverty in Africa and his fundamental belief that (nations in) Africa have a right to be on the same level as other countries in a peaceful world."