An Analysis of a Current Global Problem That Might Be Effectively Resolved Through Philanthropy Essay

An Analysis of a Current Global Problem That Might Be Effectively Resolved Through Philanthropy

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Philanthropy is the practice of giving voluntary assistance or money for the good of the public with no intention of getting anything in return (Burlingame, 2005). The term is from the Latin word, “philanthropic”, which means “love of man.”The concept of philanthropy is distinct from the concept of charity, which an organization that collects money, materials and other voluntary contributions to help needy people (Burlingame, 2005). The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) attacks the body’s immune system diminishing the body’s ability to resist opportunistic diseases which will eventually lead to having  acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) (Bartlett, 1998). HIV can be transmitted sexually, contact with contaminated blood, tissue, or needles and from mother to child during birth or breastfeeding (Bartlett, 1998). Full-blown symptoms of AIDS may not develop for more than 10 years after infection (Bartlett, 1998).

The Domestic HIV/AIDS Epidemic

The philanthropic funding for HIV/AIDS is mainly directed or intended for prevention, treatment and research and development of cure/vaccines [1]. When  dealing with this issue, one might wonder about the relationship between philanthropic activities and the pandemic state of HIV/AIDS [1]. The connection between the two lies on the philanthropic response to the pandemic of HIV/AIDS. The dilemma of whether philanthropic giving for HIV/AIDS should be increased or decreased needs to be addressed [2] in order to generate a report that would determine the future needs of strategic funding [3].

Most of philanthropy’s initial involvement with HIV/AIDS focused on – addressing emerging needs, taking risks, helping to build community-based responses and promoting innovation [1]. Historically, the financial contribution of philanthropy is lesser compared to the communities and the public sector’s financial contributions [4]. Despite this, philanthropy still played a very critical role by centering the attention on the epidemic and at the same time funding of research for the development of prevention, care and treatment models. These models were were later adopted and implemented on a broader scale in the U.S. and other countries [4].

Through philanthropy works worldwide, several achievements have been noted in combating this dreadful global epidemic including the declined in death due to AIDS since 1995 and the reversal of the decade-long trend of increased mortality rates [5]. In 1981, the AIDS epidemic killed more than 401,000 people. But the dramatic reduction in mother-to-child, or prenatal HIV transmission and the rates dropped between 1992 and 1996 resulting to prenatal acquired AIDS to decline all over the world [5].

Philanthropy’s Response to the HIV/AIDS Epidemic

Availability of drugs for AIDS had been relatively scarce specifically to those victims from less developed countries of the world such as Africa and Asia because of lack of health insurance and medical facilities [1]. The most common AIDS drug is the antiretroviral (ARV). The introduction of this drug as part of HIV clinical care had made AIDS more manageable that restored economic productivity and social functioning [3]. However, these effects were only seen in places where medical resources were readily available and affordable. More so, these places have health service capabilities that optimize the safe and effective use of the drugs [5]. There are multiple requirements in order to achieve the mentioned effects that can be grouped into three areas: (1) drugs, (2) client, and (3) health system [6]. People living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA) play a crucial role in the design and implementation of antiretroviral (ARV) drug for the HIV/AIDS prevention and care programs [6].

HIV infection is spreading rapidly among people who are struggling with poverty, racism, drug dependence, lack of access to health care, family violence, homophobia, homelessness and incarceration (Burlingame, 2005). The progress made in slowing HIV-related illnesses and deaths relied on the intricate and often complex web of care and support that enabled HIV positive individuals to increase stability in daily life (Shilts, 2000). As a result, HIV/ADIS-oriented organizations are being pushed to address multiple health and social problems first before they can even begin to tackle the issue of HIV/AIDS [1]. While government support for many of these services and programs has increased, it has neither kept pace with the demand for services nor minimized the need for creative and innovative solutions to solve complex problems [2].

Philanthropy’s impact and legacy on HIV/AIDS are enormous. For a period of less than twenty years, a systematic response to HIV/AIDS in the U.S. has emerged. Through this, philanthropy has played a key role in nearly every element of that response (Burlingame, 2005). There are numerous prevention and intervention programs that have helped change the course of the HIV/AIDS epidemic [1]. There are compassionate treatment services that utilized methods of service delivery that never existed before  [1]. Morse so, laws and policies that ensure the protection of human and civil rights of people with HIV laws have served as models for other situations and conditions [2]. The U.S. government have also made substantial effort in providing necessary care and services for people with HIV/AIDS by utilizing a community-based planning and resource allocation approach that had never been attempted on a national scale with federal funds [3].

A Call to Action: The Future Role of Philanthropy in HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS entails a heavy and escalating burden in the international landscape. By the end of 1998, an estimated 33.4 million children and adults were living with HIV/AIDS across the globe [4]. During 1998, 11 men, women and children were infected with HIV every minute [4]. In total, AIDS had claimed 13.9 million lives wherein 2.5 million lives were lost in 1998 alone. More than 95% of HIV-infected people reside in developing countries [5]. Heterosexual sex is the primary mode of HIV transmission in most developing countries, followed by needle sharing related to injection drug use [5]. In the sub-Saharan Africa, there are approximately 22.5 million inflicted with HIV/AIDS. Meanwhile, in Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, 20%-26% of people between the ages of 15 and 49 are currently living with HIV/AIDS (Burlingame, 2005).

Philanthropy is immensely aware and greatly concerned about the international HIV/AIDS crisis [5]. Funders that were surveyed believed that there is still a lot of things to be done to combat the global pandemic [6]. Two-thirds (66%) of the  respondents are dissatisfied with the progress that has been made with the international pandemic [6]. Even funders that do not fund internationally are twice as likely to be dissatisfied (39%) compared to those satisfied (18%) with the international developments [5].

Examples of Active Philanthropic Organization-  Bill ; Melinda Gates Foundation

This is a good example of philanthropic organization dedicated in helping victims of HIV/AIDS all over the world [7]. It is considered as the world’s largest philanthropic foundation established in January 2000 and currently has assets worth over $21 billion [7].

The Bill ; Melinda Gates Foundation was established by the Microsoft founder William Henry Gates III, who is popularly known as Bill Gates, and his wife, Melinda Gates. The foundation is funded by the earmings made by Gates by the giant computer company called Microsoft Corporation. This computer software company was found in 1975. Bill Gates began his organized philanthropic interests in 1994 through the William H. Gates Foundation [7]. This foundation was focused on global health issues. But after three years, Gates created the Gates Library Foundation, which was renamed the Gates Learning Foundation in 1999. In the same year he renamed the foundation as Bill ; Melinda Gates Foundation which is based in Seattle, Washington, USA [7].

The foundation is driven by the belief that every life has equal value. More so, the foundation functions to help people lead healthy, productive lives [8]. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to alleviate themselves from hunger and extreme poverty. With regards to combating the pandemic of HIV/AIDS, the foundation invests in the  World AIDS Campaign specifically in developing nations where HIV/AIDS is rampant [8].

The foundation prioritizes all diseases that cause widespread illness and death in developing countries, their representation to the greatest inequities in health between developed and developing countries and receive inadequate attention and funding [8].

Moreover, the foundation on HIV/AIDS focuses on prevention to save millions of lives by calling for an urgent expansion of global HIV prevention efforts and  proper prevention means and awareness/education [8]. The foundation supports all international efforts directed into combating HIV/AIDS transmission, including development of safer, effective, and affordable HIV vaccine [7].

Large-scale initiatives to expand access to existing HIV prevention tools in countries with emerging epidemics and those already with high HIV infection rates can be achieved through building a better commitment for a science-based approach while preventing the transmission of the virus. These initiatives are the best long-term solution to resolve the global epidemic problem [7]. The foundation supports other efforts that strengthen HIV prevention as part of their comprehensive response that includes care and treatment [8].

The foundation has already donated a grand total of US$287 million to various HIV/AIDS researches in support for the generation of a reliable and affordable HIV/AIDS vaccine or drug. However, they will continue to support these scientific studies only under the condition that scientists and experts would  share their findings and results to other scientists/experts so that they would all  come up with a common and effective vaccine/drug [8].


The proliferation of HIV/AIDS has been greatly reduced because of philanthropy. It has reduced mortality rate among the children who were infected by their mothers during childbirth and breast feeding. This was a result of life-prolonging drugs like ARVs which have become cheaper than other commonly found drugs (Burlingame, 2005). Through philanthropy, funding these drugs have made it more available and almost cost-free specially to economically-challenged HIV/AIDS victims [1]. More so, funders should collaborate more with HIV/AIDS organizations and other organizations with existing HIV/AIDS programs to meet the many new challenges concerning HIV/AIDS [2]. A partnership model of grant making is increasingly essential if programs are to be effective, sustainable and accountable [1]. Such partnerships are also an important means to ensure the involvement of people living with HIV/AIDS in the funding process [1]. The existence of long-term, respectful and mutual relationships between funders and grantees can lead to the maximization of energy, focus, creativity and impact of funded grants and programs  (Burlingame, 2005).


Bartlett, John G., M.D., and Ann K. Finkbeiner. The Guide to Living with HIV Infection. 4th ed. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.

Gifford, Allen, M.D., and others. Living Well with HIV and AIDS. 2nd ed. Bull, 2000. Practical guide for keeping life as normal as possible after infection.

Shilts, Randy. And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic. St. Martin’s, 1987, 2000.

Burlingame, Dwight F. “Philanthropy.” 2005.

[1] Funders Concerned About AIDS, U.S. Philanthropic Commitments for HIV/AIDS 2004, August 2006.

[2] 1998 Foundation Grants Index. The Foundation Grants Index includes 86,203 grants of $10,000 or more, awarded by 1,016 leading foundations and reported to the Foundation Center between June 1997 and July 1998. The funders in the index represent only 2.4 percent of the total number of active, grantmaking foundations, yet their giving accounts for 57.4 percent of total grant dollars awarded by all U.S. independent, corporate, community and grantmaking operating foundations in 1997.

[3] 1999 Foundation Center (to be published in Foundation Giving: Yearbook of Facts and Figures on Private, Corporate and Community Foundations, 1999 Edition.) This same report notes that since 1996 grants have climbed an astounding 41%, or roughly $5.6 billion.

[4] documents/resourcetracking2005.pdf (extracted on 28th March, 2008)

[5] (extracted on 28th March, 2008)

[6] EuropeanPhilanthropy_HIVAIDS_2006.pdf (extracted on 28th March, 2008)

[7] Bill ; Melinda Gates Foundation, details of the mission of the foundation, its many grants, and the vision behind its philanthropy, Retrieved on May 8th, 2008,

[8] BBC News (2006-07-20), Gates gives $287m to HIV research.

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