Tim Cook on Apple's (RED) fight against AIDS

Apple has supported the (RED) campaign to raise funds to help combat AIDs since it began a decade ago. It has become the campaign’s biggest corporate supporter.

World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDs Day. That’s a day that means something to me. My cousin was just ten-years-old when AIDs took his life. One of the 35 million killed by the disease since its emergence in last Century, he contracted the virus from a medical blood transfusion. There was no treatment, only fear and prejudice around the virus at that time. These days, people’s lives can be saved for just 30-cents a day.

Apple has raised around $120 million in support of the campaign and has intensified its efforts this year, making a range of games, music and numerous special edition RED-branded Apple products available, sales of which raise cash for the campaign (Apple “makes a contribution” from each sale). 

The company will also donate a dollar (up to an additional million) for every purchase made with Apple Pay at an Apple Store, (online or retail) or via the Store app until December 6. The Bank of America is also giving $1 per Apple Pay transaction to (RED). More information here.

Corporate giving is personal

Apple CEO, Tim Cook’s been speaking about the campaign.

“We’re proud that over the last 10 years we’ve positively impacted 70 million lives, and there are over 18 million people today on anti-retroviral (ARV) medications as a result of our efforts,” Cook, told The Independent.

Cook also revealed a little about Apple’s approach to charitable giving. The company matches the contributions its employees make, but (unlike so many larger corporations) it does not define which charities its workers support by insisting they only support those on some officially sanctioned list, instead, employees can choose campaigns that matter to them. 

“That’s one way we hit a ton of charities,” Cook said.

‘People should have values’

The Apple CEO comes in for both praise and criticism for his commitment to human rights, but remains resolute in his belief that:

“These things are about humanity, not whether someone has a right or left or centrist view,” he said. “I think it’s hard to argue that saving someone’s life with medication is a political thing.”

Speaking to USA Today, Cook remains equally resolute:

“Of course corporations should have values because people should have values,” he said. “Corporations are just a bunch of people.”

The future of healthcare

Apple’s stated intention is to change the world for the better.

When it comes to health the company has put its money where its praxis is, with products such as ResearchKit and CareKit enabling significant research for the benefit of all. Cook says health remains a key area of interest for the company, and clearly wants to bring the benefits of digital health to as wide a congregation as possible.

“I don’t think anyone is pleased with healthcare, well, maybe people are in the UK, but I don’t meet people who are pleased with what’s going on,” he said.

Reading between the lines (particularly with relevance to current UK healthcare) I can only imagine the company hopes to make better health treatment available to those who are currently priced out of such care.

“Your ability to live past your first birthday shouldn't depend on where you're born,” Cook told USA Today.

Incremental innovation

When (RED) began ten years ago around 1,200 children were born with HIV each day. It is perhaps one of Apple’s best incremental innovations that it has helped reduce that number to 400 with its (RED) efforts.

UNAIDS now predicts that number could be near zero by the year 2020, with the end of AIDS by 2030.

To find out more about what (RED) does, US readers can download Spike Jonze’s documentary “The Lazarus Effect,” free from iTunes.

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Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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