Washington, D.C. and New York, NY — ONE, the anti-poverty advocacy organization co-founded by Bono, today launched a cutting-edge PSA campaign featuring pregnant women calling for an end to mother-to-child transmission of HIV by 2015. Singer and activist Alicia Keys narrates the PSA, which is being released as part of a broader campaign this week to urge world leaders meeting in New York for the United Nations General Assembly to fully fund the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.
The PSA will launch today across leading digital platforms around the globe, including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Top celebrities – including Alicia Keys, Ashley Greene, Big Kenny, Chris Daughtry, Giselle Bundchen and Jeremy Piven — will be tweeting about the PSA and sharing it across other social media sites.
“I work to ensure children with HIV have the medicine they need to live – but what if we could prevent them from being infected in the first place? We know how to stop the virus from passing from mother to child. We have the medicine. We have the knowledge. But do we have the will? If we come together, I know that we can do this. This PSA has a powerful message. I hope everyone will watch it, share it, and lend your voice to ONE.org,” said Alicia
Keys, Grammy-winning recording artist and founder of Keep A Child Alive (http://www.Keepachildalive.org).
Every day, 1,000 babies are born with HIV. More than half of these babies will die before their second birthday. What makes this even more tragic is that virtually all of these infections are preventable. Inexpensive medicines exist that can stop the HIV virus from passing from mother to child, but they aren’t getting to the women and babies who need them in the developing world.
The Global Fund (http://www.theglobalfund.org) is saving 4,000 lives a day from 3 deadly and preventable diseases — AIDS, TB and malaria — and it is well positioned to stop the spread of HIV from mother to child, but only if it gets the funds necessary to do its job.
As ONE’s cofounder Bono wrote (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/19/opinion/19bono.html?_r=2&src=ISMR_AP_LO_MST_FB) yesterday in the New York Times, the Fund is delivering significant results and should be supported by world leaders. One critical measure of the success of the upcoming UN meetings will be whether or not world leaders step up and honor their commitments to the Fund and the broader Millennium Development Goals.
“Energetic, efficient and effective, the Global Fund saves a staggering 4,000 lives a day. Even a Wall Streeter would have to admit that’s some return on investment. But few are aware of it, a fact that allows key countries – from the United States to Britain, France and Germany – to go unnoticed if they ease off the throttle. The unsung successes of the Fund should be, well, sung, and after this summit meeting, its work needs to be fully financed. This would help end the absurdity of death by mosquito, and the preventable calamity of 1,000 babies being born every day with H.I.V., passed to them by their mothers who had no access to the effective, inexpensive medicines that exist” – Bono, New York Times, Sept. 19, 2010
ONE has launched a global petition calling on world leaders to ensure the Global Fund has the resources necessary to achieve its work, including the goal of ending mother-to-child transmission of HIV by 2015. The petition can be viewed and signed at http://one.org/us/actnow/globalfund2010/.
“The last decade could easily be called the decade of global health,” said David Lane, CEO of ONE. “Because we know what interventions are working – and because some are working so well – this is an area where acceleration of our successful efforts will have measurable results in the number of saved lives. As part of this, it is critical that the Global Fund is fully financed and the leadership of developing countries prioritizes improving the health of their people.”
This first phase of the PSA campaign will run until the end of December 2010. Between now and the end of the year, there are three important moments to build momentum: the UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG) summit occurring September 20-22, where world leaders have the opportunity to re-commit to the MDGs and agree upon a concrete action plan to accelerate progress towards meeting the Goals by 2015; the critically important Global Fund Replenishment meetings on October 4-5, where leaders will pledge funding for the Global Fund over the next three years and December 1, World AIDS Day.
Stopping the spread of HIV from mother to child
We know how to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. First, we need to ensure women have access to HIV testing during pregnancy – so expectant mothers know their status. If a woman tests positive, she can be put on anti-retroviral medicines right away to lower the potency of the virus in her system and continue to receive treatment during and after labor to block the passage of the virus to her newborn. This and other efforts such as infant feeding guidance have been shown to block mother-to-child transmission in up to 99 percent of cases.
Given we know how to prevent passage of the virus to newborns, why isn’t it happening? A number of challenges stand in our way: woefully understaffed health care systems throughout sub-Saharan Africa, inadequate access to the right medicines and a low HIV-testing rate among women. These conditions are impediments, but they can and will be remedied through in-country leadership prioritization, education, awareness and continued financial support for tested, proven programs like those funded by the Global Fund.