At Levi Strauss & Co., our employees bring our values to life every day in their communities. And there’s no better example of this than Store Supervisor Michele Smith and Store Manager Teresa Pfaff, two Levi’s® retail employees in Oregon who spend time educating hundreds of junior high students in their community about HIV/AIDS.
When the early years of HIV/AIDS were marked by fear, and no one talked openly about it, especially in corporate America, former LS&Co. CEO Bob Haas broke the silence in the hope of making it “safe” for other companies to join in the fight to end the epidemic. Today, our employees are still breaking the silence.
For most students in the health classes Michele and Teresa teach, they have never heard of the 40-year-old HIV/AIDS pandemic. Talking about vaccines and disease prevention, however, is not new for these students. “They have a different understanding and lived experience with COVID and quickly ask relevant questions, which gives us the chance to talk openly about transmission and prevention,” Teresa said.
Growing up with prevalent HIV/AIDS myths and misconceptions and knowing people who died from the disease gives Michele a passionate perspective on the importance of setting the record straight with the youth of today.
The last message we leave them with is, “Know your status, use protection, never share needles, act up/speak out!, get tested, learn and share,” Michele said.
Since 1983, we’ve invested $80 million from the Levi Strauss Foundation and the company into frontline HIV/AIDS nonprofits in more than 40 countries around the world. Through these local grassroots efforts, global policy changes and human rights advocacy, LS&Co. is committed to working toward an HIV/AIDS-free world.