Women are often referred to as the “chief medical officers” of families and communities around the world because they play a key role in family health. Empowering them through education and outreach can have a real impact on improving the health of an entire family.
Given this critical role that women play, Johnson & Johnson gears much of its global health support to initiatives that directly benefit women and girls. We have put a special focus on several areas where we can make a significant impact, like helping to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
Despite many advances in the field, HIV/AIDS remains a significant public health concern, and we recognize that we can’t “make HIV history” on our own. That’s why the recent 21st International AIDS Conference provided an excellent opportunity to touch base with global partners who work with us to benefit girls and women of all ages in the fight against HIV.
6 Ways We’re Making a Difference for Women and Children
From education to empowerment, our partnerships take a multi-faceted approach toward our mission of realizing an HIV-free world.
Through our commitment of up to $15 million to the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) DREAMS initiative, we are supporting a suite of programs focused on empowering adolescent girls against HIV, bolstered by access to treatment and prevention opportunities.
We’re also focused on ensuring that women are economically empowered and able to contribute new innovations and ideas to help solve serious health challenges through scientific education programs. In Africa, for example, we support the Next Einstein Forum, which helps to advance African women in science, as well as the New York Academy of Sciences Global STEM Alliance, which helps young girls with access to scientific education and resources.
Our Worldwide Corporate Contributions (WCC) team is celebrating a decade of partnership with mothers2mothers (m2m), a non-governmental organization that trains, employs and empowers mothers living with HIV to serve as mentors to other HIV-positive pregnant women on treatment, nutrition and ways to combat stigma and societal pressures. The WCC team also works closely with Born Free Africa, a philanthropic initiative to end mother-to-child HIV transmission by empowering people to drive change in their communities and governments.
At the International AIDS Conference, we also announced the winners of the DREAMS Innovation Challenge, which is supported by PEPFAR, Janssen Pharmaceutica, NV (one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson) and ViiV Healthcare. Proposals were accepted for breakthrough innovations to reduce HIV infections in adolescent girls and young women in 10 sub-Saharan African countries.
The challenge generated more than 800 innovative ideas. A combined investment of $85 million will support 56 winners, many of which are small, community-based organizations. Nearly half of this investment will focus on keeping girls in secondary school, which is particularly important following a recent case study in Botswana that found the risk for HIV infection was cut nearly in half for girls with 10 years of education instead of nine.
By supporting the critical role women play in managing the health of their families and advancing education, we can come closer to our goal of ensuring that every baby is born HIV-free, adolescents have the tools they need to stay HIV-free, and those living with HIV have access to simplified advanced treatment and care.
Seema Kumar is Vice President of Innovation and Global Health & Science Policy Communication for Johnson & Johnson. Her responsibilities include communications related to the company’s work in enterprise innovation and research and development, medical safety and ethics, policy and global health.