Hillary Clinton Names Ellen DeGeneres Special Envoy for Global AIDS Awareness

Amazing Badass/Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed the National Institutes of Health Tuesday on the fight against global HIV and AIDS. In addition to calling for a “AIDS-free generation,” she named Ellen DeGeneres the new Special Envoy for Global AIDS Awareness.


From Clinton’s remarks:

I am delighted to announce our new special envoy. We love special envoys at the State Department. (Laughter.) Our new Special Envoy for Global AIDS Awareness: Ellen DeGeneres. (Applause.) And Ellen is going to bring not only her sharp wit and her big heart, but her impressive TV audience and more than 8 million followers on Twitter, to raise awareness and support for this effort. I know we can look forward to many contributions from Ellen and her loyal fans across the globe.

DeGeneres has long used her fame to support humanitarian causes. In addition to a whole slew of other charities, DeGeneres supports the ONE campaign as well as abstained from twitter in December 2010 to support Keep a Child Alive.

Still, State Department Special Envoys are generally appointed due to their extensive experience. Void of overwhelmingly vocal HIV/AIDS outreach, DeGeneres seems to have been chosen for her ability to reach the masses and generate awareness on any topic. In a letter released Tuesday, Clinton told DeGeneres, “By lending us your energy, compassion, and star power to serve as our Special Envoy for Global AIDS Awareness, your words will encourage Americans in joining you to make their voices heard in our campaign to achieve an AIDS-free generation.” Clinton went on to explain, “The enormous platform of your television show and your social media channels will enable you to reach millions of people with the strong and hopeful message that we can win this fight.” That’s right. A lesbian was chosen as the face of a global awareness project simply because she’s awesome and visible.


DeGeneres gave a lighthearted statement in response to the announcement:

I’m honored to have been chosen by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as Special Envoy for Global AIDS awareness. The fight against AIDS is something that has always been close to my heart. And I’m happy that I can use my platform to educate people and spread hope. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go look up what ‘envoy’ means.

DeGeneres wasted no time and jumped directly on twitter to inform her followers, all 8.1 million of them, of the big news.


Secretary Clinton pointed out that the cost to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to provide anti-retrovirals and healthcare to one patient costs $335 per year. If each of Ellen’s followers gave only $1, it could provide a year of care for over twenty-four thousand patients. Alternatively, that money could match (and then some) the $60 million PEPFAR pledged to scale up prevention in Sub-Saharan Africa. I’m impressed that the State Department is able to see how a lot of followers could turn into a lot of money; the intersection of social media and activism isn’t always obvious to administration higher-ups. Maybe next time the ONE campaign makes a video, DeGeneres will be featured and also get to say more than just one word:

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Lizz is a consumer, lover and writer of all things pop culture and the Fashion/Style Editor at Autostraddle.com. She is also full time medical student at Brown University in Providence, RI. You can find her on the twitter, the tumblr or even on the instagram.

Lizz has written 261 articles for us.


  1. You are so right. Putting celebrity power behind a cause makes all the difference. ONE has an impressive list of celebrities backing it…that will give the average person a reason to pay attention rather than tune it out.

    It is incredible how far lesbians come!

  2. i wish clinton would run for prez…shed totes win. but i respect the fact she doesnt want to because she realizes the upper echelons of gov’t are stressful as fuck and would make any sane person go crazy.

    • Honestly, I feel like she like where she is. She has a lot of power, but also a lot of independence. She’s not constantly under the media’s eye and doesn’t have to deal with virulent criticism thrown at Obama. She doesn’t have to be a figurehead. At the same time, she’s done a lot to change US foreign policy and our relations with other leaders. She gets shit done because she’s directly caught up in the bipartisan melee that is the US Congress. And she’s a badass.

    • Agreed, although I know if she were President shit would be thrown at her constantly and I’d spend my life crying, so there’s that. :\

    • i nominate rachel maddow for presidency.

      there was a rachel maddow lookalike on the bus today. nearly proposed in my pants.

  3. omg yes. major win. Friggen loveeeeee ellen and hill. Got my first A on a college paper writing about Hill!

    also… “lemme go look up what envoy means” lolz.

    On a similar note, I just watched Miss Representation. It’s this baller documentary about how women are portrayed in media. Everyone should watch it! Perhaps we could all debrief it as well? Maybe an article on auto?

  4. Not to rain on this Ellen parade, but, um, I’m questioning this one. Aren’t lesbians the least likely group to be infected with HIV/AIDS? So, then wouldn’t it make more sense for a queer person who sleeps with men to head this ship? Or, even better, a queer person who sleeps with men AND has extensive experience with communities of color since they are often even more likely to contact HIV/AIDS?

    • I think the point of her appointment was that the position is about creating awareness as oppose to funding research or teaching. So Ellen’s connection to lots ‘o people is as valuable as actual experience.

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