Latest news

Press releases and statements about HIV and related topics

Public demand reversal of BBC red ribbons ban.

Friday, December 20, 2013

NAT (National AIDS Trust) has written to Lord Tony Hall, Director General of the BBC, asking him to reverse the ban on BBC presenters wearing red ribbons on World AIDS Day.

The corporation currently bans all its presenters and staff wearing the global HIV and AIDS awareness symbol and recently disciplined Graham Norton after wearing a ribbon on his World AIDS Day show.

For years NAT has challenged the ban with the BBC but the corporation has refused to change the rules. Today's letter comes as over 2,700 people have taken part in the HIV charity's grassroots campaign to write to the BBC opposing the ban. A number of high profile individuals and organisations, including Former Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw, Labour MP Pamela Nash and Lord Deben have also condemned the rules.

Yusef Azad, Director of Policy and Campaigns, NAT said: 'We hope that the BBC's New Year's resolution for 2014 will be to do the right thing and reverse this illogical and unnecessary ban'

NAT's letter in full.

BBC ban on the wearing of red ribbons to mark World AIDS Day

I am writing to ask the BBC to reverse the current ban on presenters wearing the red ribbon on World AIDS Day.

As I am sure you are aware over recent weeks there has been significant support for a reversal of the ban from across the political spectrum, the media and charity sectors. NAT's grassroots campaign to write to the BBC about the issue has also already had participation from over 2,700 people.

Previous BBC correspondence has stated that the wearing of symbols for individual charities would have impartiality implications for the BBC, although the poppy is exempt from these rules.

The red ribbon is a global symbol of HIV awareness. It is a simple and accessible way for anyone to remember those who have been affected by HIV and AIDS and make a statement against HIV stigma. It is not synonymous with any one particular charity and is used by numerous organisations all over the world. No one owns the red ribbon. It is the original 'awareness ribbon' and is powerful precisely because it is universal.

The BBC is a hugely respected institution which has the power to influence opinion and behaviour of the British public. As a public body, the BBC must have due regard, for example, to the need to eliminate discrimination and advance equality of opportunity, under the Public Sector Equality Duty. The wearing of the red ribbon contributes to these aims. It also helps raise badly needed HIV awareness and shows support for all the many BBC viewers and listeners who are themselves HIV positive.

I hope you and the BBC have had a chance to reflect on the current policy and will reverse this unfair ban. We would request a meeting with you to discuss this matter in more detail.

Yours sincerely

Yusef Azad
Director of Policy and Campaigns
NAT (National AIDS Trust)

CC Lord Patten, Chair of the BBC Trust

Notes to the editor:

For further information please contact:


020 7814 6724


NAT (National AIDS Trust) is the UK’s leading charity dedicated to transforming society’s response to HIV. We provide fresh thinking, expertise and practical resources. We champion the rights of people living with HIV and campaign for change.

Shaping attitudes. Challenging injustice. Changing lives. – find out more about the National AIDS Trust – a resource for HIV positive people – what everyone should know about HIV

NAT Topic