Global Business Council to Distribute ‘Blueprint’ for Fighting AIDS to Corporations
A coalition of corporations, including Coca-Cola Co., MTV and Unilever, called on other companies yesterday to apply their business skills to fighting the AIDS pandemic, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The Global Business Council on HIV and AIDS announced a blueprint for other corporations to use in fighting the disease, which it will mail to U.S. chambers of commerce and Fortune 500 companies. Richard Holbrooke, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and newly named president of the business council, said that the council will "get businesses' attention" by emphasizing that AIDS is "bad for the balance sheet, bad for the bottom line." Calling corporate responses to AIDS so far "dismal," Council Chairman and MTV Networks International President Bill Roedy said the group will help companies raise money for AIDS efforts, though it will "not participate directly" in the U.N. Global AIDS and Health Fund. "In the context of what the capability is for business and the magnitude of the epidemic, our response has been simply inadequate," Roedy said, noting that even businesses without African operations have a role in the fight because AIDS "is a disease that knows no boundaries" (Warner, Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/27). Speaking of his own business, Roedy added, "MTV's involvement is obvious. Half of all new HIV infections are below age 25. That's our audience."
The World's 'Most Serious Problem'
In Holbrooke's "sweeping view of the world's needs," AIDS has "steadily risen" in importance, NPR's "Morning Edition" reports. Holbrooke said, "[T]here are a lot of problems in the world, but I believe this is the most serious problem facing the world today. Not only is it the worst health crisis in 700 years, but it is also a direct attack on the social, political and economic structure of nations all over the world." He added, "Whatever has been done so far is grossly inadequate. And that is not to denigrate the people who have done things, but to draw attention to those who have done nothing." The U.N. International Labor Organization is also trying to get businesses to pay attention to the AIDS epidemic, NPR reports. On Monday, the group adopted a voluntary code of practice for companies to encourage prevention strategies and discourage discrimination. A representative of the ILO said voluntary efforts should not be dismissed, adding, "Dealing with the HIV/AIDS crisis is not about enforcement. You don't enforce new attitudes. You don't enforce new understanding. You don't enforce caring. You don't enforce understanding of the business costs" (Harris, "Morning Edition," NPR, 6/27).