How A Rock Star, A Physician-Legislator, And An Evangelical Senator Bonded To Help End The Global AIDS Pandemic: A Backstory (Forbes)

FORBES | In 1998 before I was Senate Majority Leader, and before Bono’s name became synonymous with addressing the AIDS pandemic and the RED campaign, he visited my Senate office to lobby me, and then collaborate with me, on the Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) initiative to provide debt relief to the world’s poorest nations, in exchange for the nations investing in clean water and public health initiatives at home.

This early, successful collaboration led us to many later conversations, including in 2002 discussing how to change conservative and evangelical hearts and minds to see the moral imperative of addressing AIDS globally.

I suggested to Bono at the time, “to move policy into legislation, you have to capture the views of mainstream, Middle America. If you as a rock star, who speaks so effectively to hearts of millions around the world through music, can do that, then you will demonstrate that we can move the U.S. Congress to support legislation to address global HIV/AIDS in a big way,” which at that time was killing 3 million people a year globally.

Bono took those words to heart – and months later on World AIDS Day (December 1, 2002) he embarked on his “Heart of America Tour.” Different than his dazzling rock concerts, Bono personally spent eight days on the ground directly engaging people on their home turf with his message of how America can lead the world in reversing the relentless, global scourge of HIV/AIDS. He made stops in Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky, culminating on December 8,2002 with a final event in Nashville, Tennessee. I joined him as he spent two hours raising awareness about AIDS, played a few songs, and visibly moved the audience. Earlier on his tour at a stop at the University of Iowa, he had shared, “I’m told you can grow anything here. We’re here to grow a movement.”

Read the full article here: