Big Brands Aim to Bolster U.S. AIDS Efforts.
WASHINGTON -- In response to near-epidemic levels of HIV/AIDS, particularly among minorities in some urban areas of the U.S., the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GBC) and some of America's best known companies today announced a campaign to fill specific gaps in national and municipal HIV/AIDS programs that are hampering prevention and testing efforts.
GBC's innovative campaign, the U.S. HIV Initiative, combines the private sector's unique skills, expertise and resources with national HIV/AIDS efforts, as well as those run by local governments and non-profits. The campaigns will educate millions of at-risk Americans about the disease to help prevent its further spread, and encourage them to get tested and learn their HIV status and seek appropriate care. The effort also will help to strengthen local health systems.
This remarkable collaboration between business and government can make a critical difference and reverse the trajectory of the epidemic in the U.S. by supplementing and scaling up existing front-line efforts. In a new report, the Black AIDS Institute expressed the need for such campaigns, especially to support all-important efforts to increase testing: "While CDC and state and local health departments have allocated considerable resources for HIV testing services, substantially less support has been provided for marketing initiatives" for these services.
Pfizer is providing $1 million to support initial efforts nationwide, and in three of the hardest-hit cities, Washington, D.C., New York, and Oakland. GBC will work with local governments to identify immediate needs and priorities and provide strategic guidance on how companies can most effectively commit their resources and expertise. The companies will offer a range of different contributions and resources, including market segmentation and demographics research, message development, marketing and mass communications, and program management and support.
The "consortium" consists of major U.S. companies, including:
* Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE)
* Levi Strauss & Co.
* Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO)
* BET (division of Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA))
* Chevron Corporation (NYSE: CVX)
* National Basketball Association (NBA)
* Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA)
* BD (NYSE:BDX)
* The Brink's Company (NYSE: BCO)
* Colgate-Palmolive Company (NYSE: CL)
* OraSure Technologies (NASDAQ: OSUR)
"This campaign is about business doing what business does best to address a virus that is hurting families, communities and the private sector," said John Tedstrom, CEO of GBC. "This extraordinary commitment will make a critical difference in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Collectively, these companies, combined with the work of government and other advocates have the right tools and resources at their disposal to achieve the best possible results."
GBC's allies in the national effort include the Centers for Disease Control, Black AIDS Institute, amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, Black AIDS Media Partnership, Kaiser Family Foundation, The Congressional Black Caucus, Gay Men's Health Crisis and the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS.
"One in two Black people in the United States infected with HIV don't know their HIV status," said Phill Wilson, CEO of The Black AIDS Institute. "Clearly, when it comes to the challenges and opportunities of HIV testing in Black America, we have not yet passed the test. But we know how to solve this. In addition to government initiatives to close the testing gap, we have not yet fully tapped the potential of social marketing and other testing promotion-efforts to increase knowledge of HIV status, including private-sector efforts like the U.S. HIV Initiative."
The Private Sector Enters a New Phase of Action on Global Health
The U.S. HIV Impact Initiative announcement coincides with GBC's Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., which brought together top business leaders, policymakers, NGOs, and others to turn innovative ideas into action against global disease, which threatens to surge again in light of the economic crisis and shrinking resource flows.
All sectors are envisioning new ways to address big global health challenges. Deaths and infections from the virus are threatening economic growth by decreasing the availability of skilled and productive workers and increasing health care costs for communities, businesses, and nations. The private sector in particular is, more than ever before, aware of its critical role in the fight against global diseases, particularly HIV/AIDS, and seeking new ways to "re-purpose" their business know-how, infrastructure and reach into tools for improving public health.
"We are honored to be a part of the Global Business Coalition's initiative to support HIV/AIDS efforts in the United States, including education, prevention and testing," said Dr. Freda C. Lewis-Hall, senior vice president and chief medical officer of Pfizer. "HIV/AIDS remains a significant global health challenge with increasing occurrence and viral resistance to treatment. The need to deliver a more promising future for people living with HIV/AIDS is greater now than ever before. The new GBC campaign underscores Pfizer's strong support of targeting communities devastated by HIV/AIDS."
Based on these realities, the private sector has developed new and dynamic programs, which were highlighted by GBC's Business Excellence Award winners, including Standard Chartered Bank, Marathon Oil Corporation, Warner Bro. Entertainment, Royal Dutch Shell plc, Unilever, Anglo American plc, Levi Strauss & Co., and Chevron Corporation. The companies were honored for their industry leadership and efforts undertaken in close collaboration with local institutions and non-profits. For more information on the winners, please visit www.gbcimpact.org.
Obama Administration Embraces Public-Private Partnerships
The GBC conference also brought together an unprecedented early grouping of Obama Administration health officials, including Gayle Smith, Special Assistant and Senior Director for Development, National Security Council, and Adm. Tim Ziemer, U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator. These leaders, along with representatives of international institutions, including the United Nations and the World Bank, are working with the private sector in new ways, particularly through GBC's unprecedented mobilization of businesses to support PEPFAR, the President's Malaria Initiative, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
Amidst shrinking available resources and growing global challenges, the U.S. government seems to have embraced the power of such partnerships as key to reaching the ambitious global health and development goals set out by President Obama. The State Department created the Global Partnerships Initiative, which will be headed by Ambassador Elizabeth Bagley, to engage with other sectors and forge new solutions. Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew, who holds wide sway over U.S. foreign assistance, said recently, "The United States confronts what may well be the most complex array of threats in our historyO[including] climate change, pandemic disease, [and] extreme poverty. Tackling these challengesOrequires robust partnerships."
GBC also honored civil rights pioneer Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) with its Inspiration Award for his leadership in the fight to end HIV/AIDS in the U.S. and abroad.
The Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GBC) is a coalition of more than 220 companies united to keep the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria a global priority. The Coalition's members share learnings from the front lines of the fight, and GBC provides tailored support so that companies can take an active role in defeating the pandemics. GBC also organizes collective actions among companies, and links the public and private sectors in ways that pool talents and resources. The official focal point of the private sector delegation to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, GBC maintains offices in New York, Paris, Johannesburg, Beijing, Geneva, Nairobi, Moscow, and Kyiv. For more information about business action against global epidemics, visit: http://www.gbcimpact.org.
About Impact Initiatives
GBC Impact Initiatives which mobilize public and private sector partners into dedicated work teams focused on areas of exceptional need, high impact and the potential to create replicable models. Impact Initiatives are moving companies from unilateral to multilateral action--with a mix of cross-functional, public and private, global and local, all mobilized to make major headway on a common objective. The strategy increases coherence and further moves public health efforts out of the silos that hold back their full potential. Impact Initiatives are currently underway in China, Kenya, Russia and the United States. For more information, visit: http://www.gbcimpact.org/about-gbc/impact-initiatives.