Thirty million people have died from AIDS over the past 30 years, and well over a million more are dying each year. We've made great progress in the fight against AIDS, and we have turned the tide so that new infection rates are now dropping. But we still need to continue the fight on multiple fronts, in order to defeat AIDS. For one thing, we need to make sure we secure the funding to make a transformative change. For another, we need to keep HIV and AIDS high on the public agenda.
In an era of tightened budgets, we cannot rely solely on governments, non-governmental organizations and foundations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. We need the partnership of the private sector. When it comes to the challenge of rallying private sector participation to help fund the fight, and generating heat, the work of (RED) is absolutely critical.
In the first four years of the Global Fund's existence, between 2002 and 2006, we were able to raise less than $6 million from the private sector to contribute to the fight against HIV and AIDS. At that time, more than 1,500 babies were being born every day with HIV. We knew from the beginning that we had to engage the private sector in this fight.
In 2006, that challenge was met, with the founding of (RED). The mandate and mission for (RED) is to help enable the Global Fund to become a truly innovative public-private partnership. (RED) built a coalition of businesses among the world's most influential companies, and they took up the challenge to deliver a stream of resources to the Global Fund. Today, (RED) has delivered nearly $210 million to the fight -- money that has positively affected millions of lives. Yet there is still more to do.
Like funding, building awareness is also a long-term concern. Awareness today means dialogue with people all over the world. (RED) and its private sector partners play an unmatched role in raising awareness. In a world where information moves so fast via social media, and where brands are vehicles for conversations with their customers, the impact cannot be underestimated. Hundreds of millions of people can add their voices to the fight each year, not only to keep AIDS firmly on the agenda, but importantly, to positively affect policy.
We have achieved a lot in the fight against AIDS. In just under a decade we've reduced the number of babies born with HIV by 40 percent. We know we have the ability to win this fight and defeat AIDS. The big question is: Will we? Will we grasp this moment, and seize the opportunity before us? With support from all of our partners, across all sectors, I know we can.
This blog post was produced by The Huffington Post and (RED) as part of a series to support the CHOOSE (RED), SAVE LIVES campaign this June. To see other posts in the series and to see content from "The Big Push" (the initiative by the Global Fund, the recipient of (RED) monies, to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria), click here. For more information about how you can join the fight against AIDS, please go to www.joinred.com/CHOOSERED.