Two of the biggest charities and social enterprise foundations working in the United States today share a common platform for investment and growth: working with communities and individuals affected by HIV. Both the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Ford Foundation alike have made strong commitments to the cause. In a world where over thirty three million individuals are living with the infection and over thirty million have been killed by its complications, this is a serious problem that the two Foundations are keen to help overcome.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the biggest foundations of its type in the world, was founded with the aim of enhancing global healthcare and reducing the instances of extreme poverty, as well as incorporating local American programmes supporting education and access to computers and technology within the United States. A world leader in philanthrocapitalism, whereby the strategies of financing venture capital and management schemes are applied to the achievement of philanthropic ambitions, to date, an enormous amount of money has been put towards improving the quality of people’s lives around the world.
With regards to the Foundation’s work tackling the issues of HIV, the aims are twofold: to both reduce the rate of infection and to support treatments that extend the lives of those infected with the virus. According to its research, only fifty percent of people who require treatment for the condition are in a position to be able to access that medical care. This is something that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has as a central issue in its mission statement. Working towards lasting change in the perception and realities of the disease, the Foundation has supported research and development schemes into both anti-retroviral products and potential vaccinations, as well as the promotion of the proven prevention options and education structures.
Similarly, the Ford Foundation acknowledges the issue – but its work focuses on the fact that an enormous majority of HIV infections occur in lower and middle income countries. This Foundation’s findings show that it is the poorest members of global society who are at the most significant risk, where the individuals who are most vulnerable to infection are also the least able to access basic care services. The Ford Foundation committed itself to supporting the United Nations goal of establishing a universal access to policies of prevention plus treatment and care, or ongoing support. For them, the issue is also one of discrimination: some countries have very strongly critical social perceptions of those with HIV infections. The Ford Foundation works with pilot schemes and advocacies around the world to promote education and understanding, as well as offering both legal and health support to those who need it. The hope is that spreading information and educating the poorest communities on the prevention and treatment of HIV will ensure a better quality of life for those afflicted already, as well as ensuring that infection rates continue to decline.
More information about the work of these incredible groups can be found via their websites: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation http://www.gatesfoundation.org and the Ford Foundation http://www.fordfoundation.org. In addition, their social media presence helps to spread information within the developed world, with Twitter streams available at @GatesFoundation and @FordFoundation.
photo credit: jonrawlinson