Earlier this year I had the privilege of visiting Ghana with (RED) to see for myself the shape of the modern day AIDS fight and the results it is yielding.
AIDS has killed more than 35 million people globally -- more than Ghana's entire population of 25 million -- and today more than 35 million are living with the disease. At its worst, Ghana's rate of mother-to-child infection was running at around 15 percent, meaning thousands of babies were needlessly being born with HIV each year. Against statistics which paint a bleak picture, we were there to listen and learn, to get insight into the challenges which remain and the progress being made.
The Korle Bu Teaching Hospital is exactly that: a beacon of progress set in Accra, the country's booming and bustling capital city. Built using some of the $55 million (RED) has funded in Ghana, the hospital is playing a pivotal role in changing the lives of so many pregnant women living with HIV. Truly there is no better way to see the impact that private sector dollars can have on the day-to-day AIDS fight. Those dollars are used to finance programs which provide life-saving anti-retroviral medicine -- medicine which can, like a modern day miracle, prevent an HIV positive pregnant mother from passing the virus to her baby.
On our visit to the hospital we met a woman with an extraordinary story named Doris. Undiagnosed for many years, Doris had lost two of her children to HIV. Through Global Fund programs, Doris now receives the medication she needs to lead a healthy, normal life. It's that same medication that enabled Doris to have a beautiful HIV-negative baby, Samuel. Despite the stigma which still surrounds the disease in so many parts of Ghana, Doris's experience led her to become a peer counselor, and today she works with other pregnant women to help them access similar programs that are proving so critical in winning the AIDS fight. Stories like Doris's beautifully highlight that the goal of an "AIDS Free Generation" is really and truly a possibility, but it won't happen without the concerted efforts of many.
As I take to my auctioneers podium at tomorrow's (RED) Auction here in New York and do my very best to shake the generous pockets of the assembled bidders, I will do so with Doris in my mind. While her story is one of both heartbreak and happiness, I know that every dollar raised will enable the Global Fund to change more lives, save more children and move us step by step towards ending AIDS.
This blog post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post, The Global Fund and (RED), in recognition of both World AIDS Day (Dec. 1) and the Global Fund's replenishment launch (taking place in Washington, D.C., December 2-3, where global leaders will determine how much money to allocate to the Global Fund over the next three years). The Global Fund is the Geneva-based financing organization that leads the fight against AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. (RED) has to date raised $215 million, with 100 percent of that money going to the Global Fund to fund AIDS programs in Africa. To see all the other posts in this series, visit here. To help fight AIDS, check out the "DANCE (RED) SAVE LIVES 2" album here and watch the DANCE (RED) SAVE LIVES 2 livestream on World AIDS Day from Australia here on the Huffington Post.