Scarlett Johansson, actress and activist returns this week from her first trip to Rwanda with (RED), the initiative to engage business and consumer power in the fight against AIDS in Africa. During her four day stay, the actress visited projects and people who benefit from the flow of (RED) funds via the Global Fund into Rwanda to help tackle the AIDS and HIV pandemic there. Scarlett has supported (RED) since its launch in 2006.
“It was important for me to come here and understand the issue we’re up against firsthand. It’s not until you’ve had the privilege of meeting healthcare providers who are fighting the daily battle, heard from people who are now getting antiretroviral drugs to stay alive, and met mothers whose babies are born healthy because they received treatment that stopped transmission of HIV, that you understand that we absolutely can do something to reverse the AIDS crisis in African countries.” commented Scarlett. “I came here with an open mind, wanting to listen, understand and learn; I leave with the overwhelming understanding that the small action of making a (RED) choice in your purchases in the West has an enormous impact on the lives of people in countries like Rwanda.”
The results of such projects are evident in the statistics – 5% of Rwanda’s 9 million population was HIV positive in 2003, and in 2007 this rate is down to 3%*.
It has been over 2 years since (RED) funds began flowing into Global Fund projects in Rwanda, with over $22 million into the country so far. The power of (RED) consumer action has helped provide antiretroviral therapy for HIV and AIDS to over 17,000 patients, and reached over 408,000 pregnant women with counseling and services to reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
Scarlett Johansson’s itinerary included the following:
* Treatment Research and AIDS Clinic (TRAC), Kigali – Rwanda’s principal HIV clinic and primary centre for national HIV and AIDS research and monitoring where Scarlett met with doctors and HIV positive patients. She also attended a support group meeting of a small number of teens living with HIV.
* Rural Health Clinic, Kabuga – Scarlett visited a small rural health clinic providing HIV counselling and testing, antiretroviral therapy as well as Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) treatment, where she met staff and some HIV+ patients.
Results So Far:
(RED) money that has flowed to Rwanda supports Global Fund-financed programs which have already:
* provided antiretroviral therapy for HIV/AIDS to over 17,000 patients
* reached over 20,000 pregnant women with preventative antiretroviral therapy to reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV
* reached over 408,000 pregnant women with counseling and services to reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV
* reached over 1.2 million people with voluntary counseling and testing for prevention of HIV infection
* trained over 250 doctors and nurses in the management of patients on antiretroviral therapy
* set up 42 health centers to deliver antiretroviral therapy for HIV and AIDS
* set up over 120 sites to offer counseling and testing services (including for pregnant women)
* supported 78 associations of people living with HIV and AIDS
* provided school fees and materials to more than 3,000 orphans and vulnerable children
(RED)’s primary objective is to engage the private sector in raising awareness and funds for the Global Fund, to help fight AIDS in Africa. Companies whose products take on the (PRODUCT) RED mark contribute a significant percentage of the sales or portion of the profits from that product to the Global Fund, to finance AIDS programs in Africa, with an emphasis on the health of women and children. Current partners are: American Express (U.K. only), Apple, Converse, Gap, Emporio Armani, Motorola, Hallmark (currently US and Canada), Dell and Microsoft. MySpace.com is the first media sponsor in the United Kingdom and MTV Networks is the first media sponsor in the US.
Since its launch in the spring of 2006, more than $110 million has been generated by (RED) partners and events for the Global Fund. (RED) money is already at work in Swaziland, Rwanda, Ghana and Lesotho.