By  on December 1, 2005

NEW YORK — "There's an old saying that you can tell the state of the economy by whether or not women are buying lipstick," said Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, N.Y.), surveying a packed room of press and Estée Lauder Cos. executives Wednesday morning.

And the junior senator from New York is definitely interested in seeing sales of at least one lip color line — MAC's Viva Glam — spike. Along with fellow politico Rep. Charles Rangel (D, N.Y.), Clinton was at MAC Cosmetics' Harlem store both to mark World AIDS Day, which is today, and to present a sizable donation on behalf of the MAC AIDS Fund to North General Hospital. In the 11 years since the MAC AIDS Fund was founded, more than $55 million has been raised to support men, women and children living with HIV and AIDS, all through the sales of MAC's Viva Glam line of lip colors.

"AIDS has been given a lot of attention, and it deserves it," Clinton told the crowd before presenting a $50,000 check to North General Hospital's president and chief executive, Dr. Samuel Daniel, on the Fund's behalf. The money will be used for a facility at the hospital that will provide 28 individual living facilities to New Yorkers living with HIV and AIDS. "AIDS knows no barriers in gender, race and age. Retrovirals have saved many lives, but they are not a cure, and they have lulled some people into complacency — reported cases of AIDS are again on the rise," Clinton said.

"While many companies have made significant contributions to the fight against AIDS, MAC is the only one I'm aware of that has a single product [line] which is dedicated to supporting the cause," Clinton told WWD after her speech. She noted that when consumers purchase one of the five Viva Glam lipsticks or the Viva Glam Lipglass, they are making a decision to support the cause in addition to getting a fashionable lipstick.

"The results speak for themselves, and there is a real lesson here," Clinton continued. "If you can get a product on the market which is broadly available and has a reasonable price point, you can really make a significant difference." Clinton praised both MAC and the Estée Lauder Cos. for their "tremendous support" in the fight against AIDS.Earlier this year, Clinton and Sen. Gordon Smith (R, Ore.) reintroduced the Early Treatment of HIV Act. The legislation is designed to allow states to develop Medicaid programs that will offer treatment options for low-income HIV-positive people before they develop full-blown AIDS. Currently, Medicaid only pays for HIV treatment for those who are parents, minor children, elderly or disabled.

However, Clinton noted Wednesday House representatives want to cut the Act's funding in next year's budget, and added, "We will fight to keep it. People shouldn't have to get full-blown AIDS to warrant treatment."

Turning to a lighter subject, Clinton made it clear that she is definitely a woman who appreciates the power of a good lipstick. "I'm wearing MAC foundation, lipstick and eye shadow," said Clinton, adding that she began using the brand several years ago. "I became a big convert to MAC when I saw how well the colors held up through long days." In fact, she said with a smile that she hoped to do a little shopping before she left the store. "I may end up leaving here with even more MAC than I already own!"

"Viva Glam has been a part of MAC since 1994," noted Peter Lichtenthal, global general manager of MAC Cosmetics and a board member of the MAC AIDS Fund. "It is essential to MAC as a brand, and it is something that will remain central to our brand going forward." MAC will add at least one new color to the Viva Glam lineup next fall, added James Gager, MAC's senior vice president and creative director, and the brand will also announce another team of spokespeople for the cause at that time.

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