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We can take AIDS ‘off the planet’ by 2030: RED

HIV/AIDS could completely eliminated if "we did the right thing", according to the chief executive of RED, the charity founded by U2 frontman Bono.

RED celebrated its tenth anniversary at Davos last week where it was founded with the purpose of ending HIV/AIDS transmissions. The fight is going well, according to the charity's boss.

"We're at a very pivotal point in the fight against AIDS… I think in 2002 it was 700,000 that were under lifesaving ARV (antiretroviral medication) medications, now it's 15 million that are alive. In 2002, it was 1,500 mothers a day that passed on HIV to their babies…now it's 600 a day," Deborah Dugan, CEO of RED, said at a CNBC event in Davos last week.

"So it's been more than cut in half and if we if do the right thing by 2020, we can virtually eliminate mother-child transmission of HIV and…if by 2030 we did the right thing, could we take AIDS off the planet?"

RED was founded in 2006 by Bono and Bobby Shriver and has so far raised $350 million. The charity raises money in different ways. At the start, it partnered with companies including Apple and Nike to release RED-branded products with the money going to fight against AIDS in Africa.

Money raised by RED goes straight into The Global Fund, a partnership between governments, civil society and the private sector to try and end AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. It invests nearly $4 billion a year.

Bono at the 2016 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
David A. Grogan | CNBC
Bono at the 2016 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The idea came when the founders of RED saw that the private sector was not contributing much to The Global Fund.

"In the course of the ten years, it's been 66 companies that have fought with us that probably wouldn't have been on the AIDS agenda…but RED gave them easy ways to participate," Dugan said.

The chief executive said the company is always looking for "new models" to raise money and said it thinks like a start-up in order to do that with social media being crucial.

"We have 5.8 million followers on social media, they are very very engaged…and want to be part of the solution. It's a fascinating generation that nine out of ten would change products to have one with a purpose, 62 percent would take a cut in pay to be at a company doing something good," Dugan said.

"So in a way, corporations have no choice but to innovate around being good corporate citizens."

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