Patrick Oconnell New York New York City Patrick Oconnell New York

Patrick O’Connell (1953–2021), developed red ribbon for HIV/AIDS awareness

Patrick O’Connell was the founding director of Visual AIDS, where he developed programs for HIV/AIDS awareness including the red ribbon.O’Connell was a member of New York City’s gay community in the 1980s, when AIDS was ravaging that community but was rarely talked about elsewhere.

The government was largely silent as the then-misunderstood disease killed many. O’Connell co-founded Visual AIDS with a goal of creating awareness campaigns to encourage people to discuss AIDS and understand its impact.

As one of the campaigns, he spearheaded the Ribbon Project, organizing “ribbon bees” where participants folded red ribbons into the now-common loop shape.

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