Born HIV Free; The Global Fund

By Daniel Ghinn

User research informs education website

The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is an international financing institution that, to date, has committed US$ 21.7 billion in 150 countries to support large-scale prevention, treatment and care against three major diseases. By the end of 2009 alone, it was estimated that Global Fund-supported programs had saved an estimated 4.9 million lives.

Founded in 2001 after the United Nations’ then-Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for the creation of a global fund to provide a channel for the massive amounts of additional resources that would be required to change the course of the three major disease, The Global Fund depends largely on the contributions of the world’s governments to support its work.

2010 was a year in which the world’s governments were set to announce the level of funding replenishment that they would commit to the Global Fund over the three years from 2011-2013. The Global Fund launched ‘Born HIV Free’ as a campaign to demonstrate public support for the Global Fund and influence governments’ decisions about their levels of commitment.

The Born HIV Free campaign came out of a need to show donor governments, in a year of replenishment, that they would be able to keep up their funding of the Global Fund, with the support of their constituents. We took that overarching goal and decided to focus on a very specific part of the Global Fund’s work which was the prevention of passing HIV from mother to child”, says Jeremy Bogen, Partnerships Co-Ordinator in the Social Media Team at The Global Fund.

We wanted to show people that this issue is something that the Global Fund can tackle with adequate resources, and can end the transmission of HIV from mother to child by 2015, with the right resources. So the message was, tell your government that you believe in our work and we’ll deliver on that promise.

The Global Fund says that Twenty million people responded to the Born HIV Free campaign over five months, and 700,000 signed a petition to support eliminating transmission of HIV from mothers to children.

Ultimately, the total amount pledged over the next three years by governments was US$ 11.7 billion. Whilst this fell short of the target figure, it represents a figure higher than in any previous period.

Leveraging engaging content

Engagement with the campaign took place across major social media platforms including Twitter, supported by Twibbon; Facebook; and a dedicated Youtube channel.

At the centre of the campaign was a website informing people about the cause and inviting them to sign a petition supporting their government’s funding of the Global Fund. To encourage sharing on social media and internet platforms, the website made available downloadable ‘spreadkits’ of campaign material such as logos, banners, photos, videos and facts.

Bogen says that The Global Fund put content at the heart of engagement. “We knew that content was going to be a huge part of this campaign, and we chose videos to be a big part of that.  Youtube was an obvious choice, and we spend a lot of time putting the channel together.”

Video content played an important role in the Born HIV Free campaign

Facebook’s ‘Causes’ application played an important role in allowing people to show their support. “We wanted to build up a community of people that were following the story and advocating for the Global Fund on Facebook, and specifically ‘Causes’ on Facebook, because the main ask of the campaign was ‘sign your name in support of your country’s contribution to the Global Fund’”, says Bogen.

The campaign’s reach was also strengthened by its use of multiple languages – the website was available in English, French, German, Spanish and Italian; as was the Youtube channel. Language-specific Facebook pages added thousands of followers in non-English languages, and even the campaign spreadkit included logos and banners in five languages.

Lessons learned

Bogen says that the Global Fund learned many lessons from the campaign. “You learn a lot when you do a campaign this size, and this was a first for the Global Fund. There are a lot of things we would do differently.

One area that he says he would do differently in the future would be to focus more on those channels that worked best. “I think we would focus more attention on the platforms that really worked well for us, like Facebook Causes. This was something that we didn’t give the amount of credit that it deserved at the beginning of the campaign as far as attention and resources. And then it grew really fast as far as gathering signatures, and became a really viral aspect of the campaign.

Advice for others

Bogen advises that others setting out on a similar global campaign should start with a clear goal, and to define what that means in terms of actions. “Make sure that you choose the goal: what you want people to do; how they can take action; and then focus one hundred percent on that.

He also says that this goal should remain the focus, even if it appears that results are not instantly visible. “You might run into problems when you get disappointed with results at the beginning, so you start trying to focus on something else. But then you realize that the whole ‘taking action’ aspect of the campaign can get confused.

Finally, Bogen emphasises the important role of external partners, saying that the Born HIV Free campaign benefited greatly from commercial, as well as not-for-profit, partnerships. “I would say to engage with as many potential partners as possible. Send out as many proposals; ask as many people to help as possible. For instance Youtube helped with promotion of videos for us, and our advocacy partners like Avaaz and ONE. Have as much of that kind of help as possible.

It is also worth noting that The Global Fund invested significant resources of their own to make Born HIV Free a success: over a six month period, a team of six full-time people inside the Global Fund worked on the campaign, with a further fifteen engaging internally to support the work throughout the initiative.


So what were the outcomes? Firstly, Bogen says that the Global Fund was happy with the result of replenishment – US$ 11.7 billion commited by supporting governments. “I think that the advocacy that was done through the campaign played a large part in that”, he says. “It was the first time that we ever tried to have the public hold their country accountable for their contribution to the Global Fund.

The campaign marked another first for the Global Fund in that it was the first time that the organization had attempted to engage people other than a small group in the political arena. “We engaged an audience that we would not have engaged if we had not taken on a campaign like this”, says Bogen. “For the 1st time, the Global Fund itself, not a partner like (Red) or ONE, got a large group of people engaged and supporting our work. And I think that’s a huge outcome, which will have a lasting effect for the next time we have replenishment three years from now. It’s a way of building our communications capacity.

Bogen also stresses the value of partnerships in achieving the outcomes. “The role of partnerships was massively important. We had a lot of help from people like Youtube, Google, Orange, and JC Deceaux for outdoor advertising. They played a huge role. And advocacy partners, like Aavaz and ONE that were advocating for Global Fund replenishment and collecting signatures on our behalf, and that accounted for a massive amount of actual signatures and support.

He adds that the value of celebrity endorsement also played a significant part in attracting attention and support to the campaign. Supporters included Paul McCartney, who allowed his concert in London’s Hyde Park to be streamed live on the Born HIV Youtube channel; Jean Paul Gautier, who designed an exclusive T-shirt for the campaign which was given away with Elle Magazine; and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, who was a key ambassador for the camapign.”To use a Paul McCartney reference, we had a lot of help from our friends”, says Bogen.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, for using the power of people to campaign for government support of the fight against HIV, we award you the Healthcare Engagement Strategy 2011 People Power Award.


Read about other winners of the Healthcare Engagement Strategy Awards 2011.

Contact Creation Healthcare to discuss your views and find out how their insights into healthcare engagement can help you achieve better health outcomes.

View all articles >

Meet the Author

Daniel Ghinn

Daniel has been at the helm throughout the company’s life since 1998. His rich expertise in working with pharmaceutical businesses has enabled CREATION to build business solutions that fit our clients’ needs.

Daniel is married to Jo, has three children, a cat, a dog, 28 fish, and 160,000 bees.