Colors of support ribbons

Written by ashley seehorn
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Colors of support ribbons
Pink ribbons usually denote breast cancer awareness. (Dynamic Graphics/Creatas/Getty Images)

Support and awareness ribbons are found on cars and lapels all over the United States. Although some are well known, such as breast cancer or AIDS awareness, many others have no words to indicate what cause they signify. To further complicate the situation, many of the ribbon colours have multiple meanings.

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Red ribbons usually symbolise HIV and AIDS awareness. They have also been used to represent heart disease awareness; substance abuse; DARE, or Drug Abuse Resistance Education; and MADD, or Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Red ribbons can also symbolise the fight against the diseases RSD, or reflex sympathetic dystrophy; and EB, or epidermolysis bullosa.


Pink ribbons customarily indicate breast cancer awareness and support. They are occasionally used to symbolise childhood cancer awareness, or support for birth parents who have given their children up for adoption.

Orange and Peach

Orange ribbons have been used to represent: kidney cancer awareness; hunger; leukaemia or lupus awareness; attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD; self-injury awareness; Prader-Willi Syndrome; cultural diversity; and humane treatment of animals. The American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) uses an orange reflective ribbon during National Work Zone Awareness Week to honour roadway workers who have died on the job. Peach ribbons can signify support for endometrial and uterine cancer survivors, or thanking our military troops.


Yellow ribbons primarily indicate support for U.S. military troops. However, yellow ribbons have also been used to symbolise: POW/MIAs (prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action); adoptive parents; support for bladder cancer survivors; suicide prevention; endometriosis; hope; support for hydrocephalus sufferers; liver cancer or disease survivors; missing persons; Amber Alert; and sarcoma and testicular cancer survivors. A pale yellow ribbon represents spina bifida awareness.


Green ribbons can symbolise: organ and tissue transplantation or donation; childhood depression; open adoption records; environmental issues; homeopathy; safety; kidney disease or cancer; missing children; bipolar disorder; cerebral palsy; glaucoma; health; leukaemia; mitochondrial disease; mental health; prostate cancer; ovarian cancer; or neural tube defects.

Light green can represent coeliac disease or chronic pelvic pain. Lime green ribbons may stand for Lyme disease; lymphoma; or Sandhoff Disease. Teal ribbons can denote: ovarian, cervical, or uterine cancer; polycystic ovarian syndrome; tsunami victims; sexual assault; anxiety disorders; agoraphobia; myasthenia gravis; spaying and neutering of pets; Tourette's Syndrome or substance abuse.


Blue ribbons may indicate: child abuse prevention; domestic violence prevention; victim's rights; freedom of speech; colon or prostate cancer awareness; arthritis; water quality or safety; education; drunk driving awareness; anti-tobacco; anti-second hand smoke; ARDS, or acute respiratory distress syndrome; EBV, or Epstein-Barr Virus; hydranencephaly; histiocytosis; Reye's Syndrome; leukodystrophy; interstitial cystitis; OI, or osteogenesis imperfecta; dystonia; victims of Hurricane Katrina; alopecia; or the "Save the Music" campaign.

Light blue ribbons denote: scleroderma; Trisomy 18; childhood cancer; prostate cancer; Edward's Syndrome; pro-choice; Graves-Basedow Disease; or thyroid disease. Periwinkle ribbons signify: pulmonary hypertension; stomach cancer awareness; or eating disorders.


Purple ribbons can indicate: testicular or thyroid cancer awareness; ADD; pancreatic cancer; domestic violence prevention; animal abuse prevention; cystic fibrosis; Alzheimer's; religious tolerance; Crohn's disease; colitis; victims of September 11; fibromyalgia; leiomyosarcoma; lupus; children with disabilities; Sarcoidosis; cancer survivors; homelessness awareness; epilepsy; macular degeneration; and Sjogren's Syndrome.

Violet ribbons can stand for lymphoma or Hodgkin's disease. Lavender ribbons can symbolise: general cancer awareness; Rett Syndrome; foster care; or epilepsy. Burgundy ribbons denote: caesarean section; multiple myeloma; hospice; migraines/headaches; adults with disabilities; hemangioma; William's Syndrome; vascular malformation; antiphospholipid antibody syndrome; or thrombophilia.

Other Solid-Colored Ribbons

White ribbons can represent: victims of terrorism; retinal blastoma; bone cancer; the Right to Life movement; awareness about violence against women; peace; adoptees; Alzheimer's; diabetes; or Multiple Hereditary Exostoses, a rare disorder that causes abnormal growths on the bones. Black ribbons indicate: gang prevention; melanoma; mourning; antiterrorism; or remembering POW/MIAs. Pearl ribbons stand for: lung cancer awareness; mesothelioma; multiple sclerosis; or emphysema. Brown ribbons denote: anti-tobacco; or colon or colorectal cancer awareness. Gray ribbons symbolise: asthma; brain tumours or cancer; diabetes; borderline personality disorders; or allergies.

Silver ribbons may indicate: Parkinson's disease; mental illnesses; children with disabilities; or stroke. Gold ribbons represent childhood cancer.

Multicoloured Ribbons

Ribbons with puzzle patterns indicate autism or Asperger's Syndrome awareness. Lace ribbons stand for osteoporosis. Blue and pink ribbons symbolise: stillbirth; miscarriage; or infant death. Rainbow ribbons usually signify gay pride. Red and white ribbons symbolise aplastic anaemia or bone marrow failure. White ribbons with polka dots symbolise chronic urticarial or autoimmune diseases. Flag patterned ribbons stand for patriotism and support of U.S. military troops. Flags may also indicate remembrance of September 11 or fireworks safety awareness.

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