Serious Business: Companies Team Up to Combat AIDS
June 12, 2003
The Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS 2003 awards dinner was held Wednesday at Washington's Kennedy Center. The event praised companies that are doing the right thing; urged them to do more; and to convince others that multinational corporations are serious about tackling the international health crisis. Among the night's participants were Secretary of State Colin Powell, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, evangelist Franklin Graham, former UN Ambassador and current GBC president Richard Holbrooke and former senator Jesse Helms.Adapted from:
"Our theory is prevention and information -- transmitted in a way that affects behavior -- is the ultimate solution to AIDS," said CEO Sumner Redstone of Viacom, which has committed $100 million and partnered with the BBC to fight HIV.
GBC was formed in 1998 to persuade companies to get involved but had just 17 members in 2001. GBC now has 113 members, including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, AOL Time Warner, DeBeers Group, ExxonMobil, British Petroleum, American Express, Citigroup, the NBA, BET, Viacom, Nike, Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, Bayer, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Abbott Laboratories. Companies pay $25,000 annually to join.
AIDS is killing the trained workers in many countries where these companies have interests. "Responding to AIDS is the right thing, but it's in their self-interest to do so," said GBC Executive Director Ben Plumley.
Yesterday, GBC leaders spent the day on Capitol Hill, meeting with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson and other administration figures, and they urged members of Congress to free up the $15 billion for President Bush's AIDS assistance program.
Two companies were honored: Tata Iron and Steel, India's largest steel company, for community-based awareness programs; and Standard Chartered Bank, for launching "Staying Alive" -- a comprehensive prevention and care program in its African branches. GBC's awards event raised $900,000.
06.12.03; Roxanne Roberts
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