Business and Social Media Leaders Work to Prevent HIV-infected Births

Business and social media leaders teamed up
Friday to tackle the transmission of HIV from mothers to babies, saying
the medicine and the money are largely in place, and with the right
organizational skills they can eliminate HIV-infected births by 2015.


John Megrue, CEO of
Apax Partners U.S., will chair a business group that includes bankers
and consulting experts and will help coordinate work being done by
several governments and other international donors, as well as filling
in gaps in the funding.

Women need to receive antiretroviral drugs to prevent the virus being passed to their unborn babies.

“There
are no technological issues around it. There are no medical issues
around it. It does not exist in the wealthy part of the world,” Megrue
said. “But there are still almost 400,000 children a year born –
primarily in sub-Saharan Africa – with HIV.”

Ambassador
Eric Goosby, a top U.S. AIDS official, said that although the group set
a goal of zero transmission by 2015, in reality about 13 percent of
babies born to HIV-positive mothers will unavoidably be born with the
virus.

Randi Zuckerberg, who founded RtoZ
Studios after leaving the Facebook company that her brother Mark
started, will lend the power of social media to increase awareness about
the issue, by pulling in 1,000 influential Twitter and Facebook users
in an expansion of an earlier social media effort to raise $200 million
to fight malaria.

“I’m calling this a social
good broadcast experiment,” she said. “The long-term vision is for this
to be a group of thousands or millions of people who can all broadcast
in a coordinated manner where there is a global crisis.”

Other
business leaders involved in the project include Dominic Barton,
managing director of consulting firm McKinsey & Co., and Cynthia
Carroll, CEO of the mining company Anglo American PLC.

“AIDS,” Carroll said, “should not be a disease of children.”

SOURCE: The Associated Press