Public-Private Partnerships Are Vital to Creating an AIDS-Free Generation

By Ambassador Eric Goosby, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Rhonda Zygocki, Executive Vice President, Policy & Planning, Chevron Corporation

In June, the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) celebrated its 10th anniversary. This historic milestone was highlighted by Secretary of State John Kerry announcing that the one millionth baby had been born HIV-free due to efforts supported by PEPFAR to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus.

In spite of the tremendous progress being made, there is still much work to be done in the fight against AIDS, and the initiative of the U.S. government cannot accomplish it alone. President Obama and Secretary Kerry have stressed that achieving an AIDS-free generation will require a global effort. It is with that objective in mind that the public and private sectors have joined together in advancing HIV prevention, care and treatment goals.

Public-private partnerships can take many forms, from governments engaging local private health associations to expand access to quality services, to multinational corporations working alongside governments to advance technical training, capacity building and access to new technologies. These "match-ups" allow the government and private sector to work together to leverage their unique human and financial resources. Since 2006, the U.S. has engaged in nearly 300 such partnerships, which have yielded nearly $400 million in private sector investment and $335 million in funding from PEPFAR.

Multinational corporations, such as Chevron, realize that business success is inextricably tied to the health and prosperity of the countries where it operates. Some of Chevron's largest operations are located where the grip of AIDS is the strongest, and the company's dedication to supporting its employees and communities in the fight against AIDS extends over a 25-year period.

At the 2011 United Nations High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS, Chevron joined with PEPFAR and UNAIDS in a partnership to support theGlobal Plan Towards the Elimination of New HIV Infections Among Children by 2015 and Keeping Their Mothers Alive. Chevron committed $20 million in support of the plan, and PEPFAR increased its investments in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV by a total of $75 million over the following three years.

As a part of this $20 million commitment, Chevron is partnering with the Business Leadership Council and Nigeria's Federal Ministry on an ambitious PMTCT scale-up program. Utilizing the findings and plans developed in the pilot program, the Nasarawa State government and PEPFAR have already tripled the number of local clinics offering services to prevent the transmission of the virus from mother to child. Approximately 35,000 more pregnant women have been tested for HIV, and 1,500 additional HIV-positive pregnant women and 650 babies are on anti-retroviral medications. The results led the company in May to announce a $1.3 million commitment over three years to support similar efforts in Nigeria's Bayelsa, Lagos, and Rivers states.

Additionally, Chevron is partnering with the non-governmental organization Pact in Bayelsa state on a program to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Pact is building the organizational and technical capacity of community-based organizations and local government authorities to improve and sustain service delivery while creating additional demand for quality PMTCT services. Pact projects that by the end of August these efforts will result in 6,000 people receiving PMTCT information that will help increase awareness and change behavior, resulting in more women accessing antenatal care and treatment.

Through these partnerships, and others like them, both the public and private sectors have learned that good outcomes don't happen by chance; they are based on a shared agenda, common goals and long-term commitment, and they require concerted joint planning and oversight to ensure meaningful and durable outcomes.

A key aspect of measuring partnership results is agreeing up front to a rigorous, standardized approach to continuous reporting throughout the process. Thorough evaluation enables partnerships to measure both impact and value for each specific program, while also providing important benchmarks that can be used as lessons learned for helping to build prevention, care, and treatment efforts.

Today, 13 countries with PEPFAR partnerships have reached the programmatic "tipping point," where, in these nations, the annual increase in adults on treatment is greater than the number of annual new adult HIV infections.

As countries continue to turn the tide on this epidemic, further progress will depend on a shared commitment from the private sector. Achieving successful, high-impact public-private partnerships requires that both governments and the private sector continue to transition from pure philanthropic or corporate social responsibility-based models to high-value partnerships. The road to achieving an AIDS-free generation will not be easy, but strong partnerships, like the collaboration between PEPFAR and Chevron, illustrate how by joining forces, we can ultimately reach this goal.