Two groundbreaking initiatives, aimed at realistically achieving the once-unthinkable goal of ending new HIV infections among children by the end of 2015, were launched simultaneously at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Conference in Davos today.

The Business Leadership Council for a Generation Born HIV Free was launched together with a Social Media Syndicate that is designed to reach billions of people around the world, getting them to join in action to take the number of HIV-infected births from 390,000 a year to zero within 48 months, making it the world’s largest social media movement of its kind. The Syndicate will evolve to focus on other UN Health Millennium Development Goals over the coming months.

The Business Leadership Council has enlisted leading executives to bring the know-how, finances and commitment of the private sector together with government efforts, and is part of the Global Steering Group led by Michel Sidibe, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, and Ambassador Eric Goosby, United States Global AIDS Coordinator.

Health experts agree that eliminating HIV infections among newborn babies is fully achievable by the end of 2015, but doing so will require a joint effort of the private and public sectors. Financial experts increasingly recognize the high return and cost-effectiveness of investing in disease prevention.

“The private sector is playing a key role in improving health and well-being around the world through its strong engagement in the Every Woman Every Child movement,” said United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. “Innovative partnerships are critical to meeting our goal of eliminating new HIV infections among children by the end of 2015.”

“We have 48 months to get this done,” said John Megrue, Chief Executive Officer of Apax Partners US, and Chair of the Business Leaders Council. “This is one of the clearest humanitarian goals of our time, and we can do it.”

The Social Media Syndicate will coordinate the most influential individual publishers to generate a mass social mobilization and be led by Randi Zuckerberg, founder of R to Z Studios and former marketing director at Facebook. The syndicate expands on a model that was used successfully to help raise $200 million to fight malaria.

“We have all seen how organizing through the social web can change the world. Now with the Social Media Syndicate, we can unleash that power to achieve ambitious goals to improve people’s health around the globe,” said Ms. Zuckerberg. “As a mother myself, I know everyone with children can agree that no child should be born with HIV.”

To mark the launch at WEF, the Social Media Syndicate simultaneously broadcast its first social message through Twitter, Facebook and other social media about ending HIV transmission to children, and it is expected to generate more than 100 million impressions. At Davos, Ms. Zuckerberg has interviewed several principals involved with the initiative for video broadcast through social media. She described how people’s individual social media networks can be used to independently amplify pressing issues to reach the UN Health Millennium Development Goals.

Ambassador Goosby participated in today’s launch, and added: “The science is clear that achieving a generation born HIV-free is possible. It is also a smart investment that will save lives and pay dividends in many of the world’s emerging economies. The Business Leadership Council and the Social Media Syndicate will marshal the power of the private sector, converging business acumen, technology and other assets to support country-led efforts to prevent new infant infections and save mothers’ lives. I commend these business leaders for their commitment and partnership.”

Dominic Barton, Worldwide Managing Director of McKinsey and Company, said: “To achieve this crucial goal, we must focus on effective program execution – a task which business leaders everywhere are well placed to support. Every executive committed to making a positive impact on society should join us. It’s an honor for McKinsey to be part of this cause.”

Cynthia Carroll, Chief Executive of Anglo American, said: “It is truly unconscionable that out of the roughly 1.4 million global HIV-positive pregnancies each year, we still see some 390,000 new child infections. That’s 28% – not much better than if we did nothing at all. We would not tolerate such poor performance in business and there is no earthly reason why mothers should tolerate such a burden of disease in their newborn babies. I am excited to see everyone here joining in our determination to achieve the goal of an HIV free generation. This is achievable by the end of 2015 and makes unmistakable business sense from both a humanitarian point of view and as a simple return on investment.”

Michel Sidibe, Executive Director of UNAIDS, said: “The entire UN community stands fully behind the Business Leadership Council and their resolve to end new HIV infections among children by 2015. It is inspiring to see so many corporate leaders come together for a noble and yet entirely realistic goal.”

The joint initiatives will work closely with UNAIDS and other partners, including the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the world’s leading financing institution dedicated to supporting large-scale prevention, treatment and care for these three diseases, and other partners. The Global Fund, which has already committed over US$22 billion worldwide, is a unique public-private partnership in global health that has proven highly effective.

Members of the Business Leadership Council already include its Chairman, John Megrue, Chief Executive Officer of Apax Partners US; Dominic Barton, Worldwide Managing Director of McKinsey & Company; Steven Burke, Chief Executive Officer of NBC-Universal; Nathan Kirsh, Chief Executive Officer of Jetro; Norman Payson M.D., Chief Executive Officer of Apria Healthcare Group; Sir Martin Sorrell, Chief Executive Officer of WPP; Cynthia Carroll, Chief Executive of Anglo American; and Jamie Cooper-Hohn, Co-founder, President and CEO of Children’s Investment Fund Foundation.

The news conference can be seen in it’s entirety via:



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