Product (RED)
Since its discovery in 1981, 35 million people have died from AIDS or AIDS-related diseases. The early years of the disease presented challenges for the medical community. However, as more people learned about the disease, another challenge emerged: how to best educate the public about the dangers of the disease without creating a stigma. This challenge still persists today.

The worldwide impact of AIDS is prolific. In 2015, 36.7 million people were living with HIV. Every day approximately 5,753 people contract HIV — about 240 every hour. In 2015, 1.1 million people died from AIDS-related illnesses. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 78 million people have contracted HIV and 35 million have died of AIDS-related causes.

In 2006, Bono, lead singer of the Irish band U2, and Bobby Shriver, an activist and attorney, created Product (RED) to advocate for better awareness of AIDS. The two men believed that if they combined the efforts of NGOs, governments, the medical community, global business brands and celebrities, they could create a powerful force to foster understanding of the disease. The influential allies also provided funding for research to eradicate the disease.

Product (RED) business partnerships include Apple, Gap, Starbucks, and Coca-Cola. By creating products specifically for Product (RED), the partnership allows consumers to use purchasing power to fund AIDS treatment and awareness around the globe. (RED) partners contribute a portion of their (RED) product profits to fight AIDS, and up to 50 percent of the profits go directly to fighting AIDS.

Over the past decade, Product (RED) raised $365 million to support the Global Fund. Product (RED) has become a global brand; the combination of awareness and research is powerful. The money raised by Product (RED) provides life-saving medicine for those living with AIDS in Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zambia.

When Product (RED) began, only 2.1 million people had access to medication. Through their efforts, the organization raised money to fund medication for more than 18 million people. They have also increased the access to medication; in rural areas of Africa, filling a prescription is not easily accomplished. However, Product (RED) and its partnership with the Global Fund help create a pathway for the medication, by making sure the medicine reaches the people that need it most, the system is more efficient and life-saving.

AIDS is a worldwide epidemic, but the decade of Product (RED) illustrates the power of the combination of global alliances and knowledgeable consumers as a force for change.

Jennifer Graham

Photo: Flickr

ending-global-poverty
Although the fight to end global poverty is still an uphill battle, there are a lot of people who are making a difference. From celebrities to CEOs, a variety of influential leaders have created organizations to bring more awareness to poverty around the globe. While some of these organizations work together to create a larger impact, it is the founders who have made it possible in coming closer to create better living conditions for people around the globe.

Bill and Melinda Gates are both influential leaders in the movement to end world poverty. The Gates Foundation tackles issues from global health to global development, focusing on creating the best living conditions in the most efficient ways possible. Bill Gates has recently partnered with engineer Peter Janicki, where they have developed a machine that turns human feces into clean water and electricity. “The machine’s purpose is to help the 783 million people living without clean water and the nearly 2.5 billion who don’t have adequate sanitation,” according to NPR’s Linda Poon. With Bill Gates’ technological knowledge, developments in better hygiene will further help people in poor countries.

Ten years ago, Bono’s organization ONE utilized the status of famous celebrities to raise awareness about the developing world. Its focus is in Africa, but the organization is passionate about ending poverty and preventable disease around the globe. The most popular accomplishment the organization has achieved is the (RED) campaign. By partnering with multibillion-dollar corporations they have “generated more than $300 million for The Global Fund to support HIV/AIDS grants.”

In May 2013, Mark Goldring was appointed chief executive of Oxfam International. The organization focuses on six key issues to help the developing world. Equality, sustainability and giving voices to the voiceless are some of the topics the organization has tackled. The organization works around the world with 17 congregations to maximize its progress. “Oxfam is determined to change [the] world by mobilizing the power of people against poverty,” according to the organization’s website.

These are only a few of the people taking a stand against world poverty. Organizations like The Hunger Project, UNICEF and Care are bringing the world closer to a poverty-free world. As more developments and strategies are created, these organizations will be able to generate awareness in ending global poverty.

Kimberly Quitzon

Sources: NPR, ONE, Oxfam
Photo: Flickr