Brad Pitt and Nelson Mandela
11/10/2004 at 08:35 AM EST
Brad Pitt traveled to Ethiopia last weekend for "a listening and learning visit" about the AIDS epidemic in Africa, according to Jamie Drummond, a spokesman for DATA, a Washington-based lobby group co-founded by Bono.
The Troy star, 40, began his visit Friday and left late Monday night as part of a fund-raising campaign to combat the disease on the world's poorest continent, the Associated Press reports.
"AIDS is a tragedy that affects us all," Pitt said afterward. "The world cannot be allowed to stand by any longer and just watch this disaster... unfold."
The trip was Pitt's first to Ethiopia, where he visited local projects fighting the spread of HIV. He also met with eight Ethiopian entertainers who have collaborated on songs to spread awareness of HIV and to raise money for AIDS programs.
"He was very humble and really interested in the situation here," said Tsedenia Gebremarkos, who has just released a hit album in Ethiopia. "We hope his popularity can raise awareness in the same way we are trying to. We need the support of people like him."
In Africa, 29.4 million people are living with HIV, which has left 25 million children orphaned, according to United Nations statistics. In a message he has carried around the world, Bono notes that more than 6,500 Africans die every day from AIDS, and 8,000 new people are infected daily.