NUTLEY, N.J. -- More than 8,000 Roche employees from 33 countries and 60 sites collectively walked nearly 25,000 miles to raise funds today for local and international AIDS organizations. Funds raised by employee sponsorships will be matched in kind by Roche as part of the companys annual Global Employee AIDS Walk in observance of World AIDS Day.
Roche employees from the companys pharmaceuticals and diagnostics divisions, Nutley, N.J., Indianapolis, Ind., Branchburg, N.J., Florence, S.C., Boulder, Colo., Palo Alto, Calif. and Pleasanton, Calif., will donate a percentage of the funds raised in the Global Employee AIDS Walk to local HIV/AIDS organizations that meet local needs in their communities. The remaining portion will be used to provide shelter, food, clean water and education to children orphaned by AIDS in Malawi, Africa, which ranks as the 12th highest population living with HIV/AIDS in the world -- immediately behind the United States, according to The World FactBook.
According to UNAIDS, an estimated 37.2 million adults and 2.2 million children worldwide are living with AIDS in 2004, the highest level ever. In sub-Saharan Africa, where the HIV/AIDS epidemic has hit the hardest, 75 percent of 15- to-24-year-old women are infected with HIV. In the United States, 40,000 people are infected with HIV every year and more than half are African Americans and women. African American women make up 72 percent of all new HIV diagnoses in women.
As a major player in the HIV arena, we strive to be on the forefront of efforts to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic at the local and international level, said George Abercrombie, president and CEO of Hoffmann-La Roche Inc., the companys U.S. prescription pharmaceuticals division. By contributing to charities locally in the U.S. and in Malawi, Roche employees can feel proud that their efforts are making a truly global impact toward improving the lives of those affected by the disease.
Roches pilot Global Employee AIDS Walk in 2003 involved more than 1,300 employees at three sites in the United States and Switzerland and raised more than a quarter of a million dollars. To date, the money raised for Malawi in 2003 has been used, in part, to purchase essential items, such as maize meal to feed the children and a borehole for clean water. Additional funds have been invested in building and renovating local facilities and providing educational equipment, such as sewing machines, textbooks and musical instruments. Cam Greig and Moreen Williams, both Roche U.S. employees, traveled as ambassadors to Malawi in May 2003. While in Malawi, Cam and Moreen visited with the orphans who are the beneficiaries of the funds they and hundreds of other Roche employees raised.
I cant believe anyone wouldnt be moved by such an experience and would not want to help, said Moreen Williams, a Roche employee who witnessed the impact HIV/AIDS has had in the country during a visit to Malawi. The main lesson I learned is that anything and everything can help in improving the lives of the orphaned children. I am very grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to such an important cause.