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Engaging New Audiences In The Fight Against AIDS

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The world finds itself at a historic moment in the fight against HIV/AIDS, with the opportunity to end mother-to-child transmission of HIV and take a crucial step toward defeating this global pandemic that has already claimed 30 million lives. It's a chance to change the course of history by ensuring that the next generation is born HIV-free by 2015.

This is an attainable goal, but it isn't a done deal. We find ourselves in a time when the global economy threatens public sector funding for this effort. Now would be the absolute worst time to take our foot off the gas and lose the momentum we have built in the fight against AIDS thanks, in large part, to the ability to provide life-saving anti-retroviral drugs to millions of people over the past decade.

So how can the world push this effort over the finish line? Critical pieces include creating new funding models, new ways to keep heat on the issue and new ideas to entice people's engagement and energy in this battle.

For our part in this fight, (RED) is trying to engage corporations and the public in a variety of ways. On June 1, (RED) will kick off our first (RED)RUSH TO ZERO campaign, ten days of in-person and digital events and experiences bringing together brands, celebrities, gamers, music fans and consumers around the world, to raise critical funding and awareness. There will be the (RED)RUSH Games, a global video game tournament whose small participation fee will benefit the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The (RED) music program will allow fans to buy (RED) tickets and concert venues to create (RED) promotions, again benefitting the Global Fund. A unique fundraising road trip will have a group of dynamic women driving across Europe. And our roster of corporate partners are participating in a variety of ways, from offering new (RED) products to creating social media fundraising campaigns.

Since launching in 2006, (RED) has generated more than $190 million for Global Fund HIV/AIDS grants that have so far impacted the lives of more than 14 million people affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa through prevention, treatment, counseling and care services. As one of the first innovative funding mechanisms for global health, we take seriously the challenge to mine new sources to solve one of the biggest health problems in history. So we're plugging further into the zeitgeist to tap into the dynamic worlds of gaming and music. This gives us a chance to leverage people's existing passions to fund solutions for those living in extreme poverty.

The potential for more innovative financing is great, and players in the global health sector have been pursuing new and exciting ideas. For example, in the past few years we've seen the creation of a mechanism at GAVI that allows governments to make long-term commitments that can be leveraged as bonds on the capital markets, providing faster access to funds for vaccines. We've also seen the Global Fund innovate through a number of partnerships to help provide medicine and care programs in some of the most tough-to-reach places in the developing world.

It is going to require a renewed commitment by the public and private sectors -- working collaboratively -- to excite and activate people around the world to bring an end to HIV/AIDS. The (RED)RUSH TO ZERO campaign, June 1-10, is the kind of aggressive action that is needed to make this goal a reality. It's time to start the beginning of the end of AIDS.