Nov. 30

U.S. PEPFAR Teams-up with Digital Influencers in Campaign to Support Treatment Expansion to Stop HIV/AIDS

by Ray Chambers

“Treatment For All” campaign aims to use the power of social media for global change.

On November 30, 2015, the eve of World AIDS Day, Emmy Award-winning television host Ricki Lake, digital influencers Wesley Stromberg, Sammy Wilkinson, Megan Nicole and Melvin Gregg, the United States Government President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Facebook and various other groups are joining forces with partners around the world to launch #TreatmentForAll, a global movement to help stop the AIDS epidemic by quickly initiating treatment for all people diagnosed with HIV. The movement’s shared goal is to ensure treatment for 28 million people by 2020.

The campaign will begin with the premiere of the first documentary film officially launched on Facebook, during a screening at the Facebook offices in New York City. The film will honor the 23 million people around the world who need treatment for HIV. To create the documentary, Lake and the four social influencers traveled to Malawi to talk to patients affected by HIV/AIDS in an effort to show the “faces” of those fighting this disease. The interviews are honest and raw, capturing first-hand the realities of people suffering from AIDS worldwide. The documentary also features interviews with U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, and President Bill Clinton.

The documentary will be available on the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General Ray Chambers’ Facebook page. Following the documentary’s premiere, this group of social media stars along with digital stars from The Influential Network, will engage their combined digital following of more than 40 million people around the world by sharing the film and launching the #TreatmentForAll campaign— calling on the world to prioritize and fast-track treatment; calling on countries to adopt key policy changes and provide high-quality implementation to support the collective vision of treatment for all.

“We have the tools and resources to bring an end to the HIV/AIDS epidemic now. We must seize this moment and act with deliberate haste to reduce the spread of the virus and treat all those living with HIV and AIDS,” said Ray Chambers, UN Assistant Secretary-General and the Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Malaria. “I thank all of our partners including the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, and the Clinton Health Access Initiative for prioritizing treatment to achieve the collective goal of seeing a world free of HIV. We will not rest until the job is done.”

To help continue the momentum at this critical crossroads in the HIV/AIDS response, #TreatmentForAll will be one of the first movements to join Facebook’s internal social good initiative, Global Causes. Global Causes is a Facebook-wide program with an array of social good activities that will culminate in April 2016. This will be an opportunity for people to connect with each other over causes they care about, volunteer in local communities and educate and train nonprofits on how to use the Facebook platform and solutions most effectively.

“It is a complete honor and privilege to be a part of this unique campaign to spread the importance of #TreatmentForAll” and to introduce the world to a place that is so near and dear to my heart, The Jacaranda School in Malawi” said Ricki Lake. “Through our mission, our social media influencers and I get to use each of our platforms to educate and hopefully change the landscape of HIV/AIDS globally.  This has been a life-changing experience for all of us, one we will never forget, and one we will stay with until the job is done.”

“Imagine the moment when we have all the tools that we need to reduce new HIV infections by 90 percent to save millions of lives,” said Ambassador Deborah L. Birx of PEPFAR. “That moment has arrived and the time to act is now. #TreatmentForAll will help change the conversation about what is perceived as possible, raising public awareness and catalyzing change around the world.”

“If you want to save lives and stop an epidemic that has claimed the lives of tens of millions of people, treatment is the best prevention,” said President Bill Clinton. “Now we’re on the verge, for the first time ever… of being able to have one pill to treat people with HIV and AIDS that costs less than $100. It’s never happened. Once that does happen, the money that has already been appropriated will go exponentially further.”

The inspiration for #TreatmentForAll came in response to the recent World Health Organization (WHO) landmark HIV treatment guidelines which for the first time called for anyone infected with HIV to be treated immediately.  According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), nearly 37 million people are currently HIV-positive, and of those only 15.8 million are currently on treatment. Treating all is key to ending the epidemic, and can be done with a more efficient use of existing resources and critical policy changes in high HIV burden countries. Together, by prioritizing and fast-tracking treatment, the world can collectively aim to support the shared vision of 28 million men, women and children on treatment by 2020—nearly twice as many as today. According to projections, this would reduce the number of AIDS deaths and infections by nearly 50 percent.

#TreatmentForAll builds on the incredible momentum around treatment expansion in recent months and days. The Clinton Health Access InitiativeUNAIDS, and UNITAID are announcing new agreements with manufacturers that could increase access to more sustainable HIV drug regimens at reduced prices, pending regulatory approval, including one regimen that will be less than $100 per patient per year. The World Health Organization is building on the landmark HIV treatment guidelines that it announced this September, with further guidelines that increase our ability to reach treatment for all. PEPFAR is announcing on World AIDS Day its 2015 treatment results, an increase from 2014 and well on its way to meet the treatment target President Obama announced in September to support nearly 13 million people on treatment by the end of 2017.  PEPFAR will continue to pivot its resources and HIV/AIDS services to the geographic areas and populations with the highest HIV/AIDS burden, to ensure maximal impact of every dollar invested. PEPFAR is committing to increase its investment even more, from within its existing resources in the PEPFAR Impact Fund announced as part of the FY 2016 President’s Budget, to affected countries that increase their own investment and adopt key policy changes that result in greater impact.

Treatment for all is key to ending the epidemic. Thanks to these recent announcements and the continued efforts of many partners, what once seemed unimaginable is now possible and, can be done with the more efficient use of existing resources and critical policy changes.

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