Originally Published by Johnson & Johnson.
A diverse group of global partners jointly launched the MenStar Coalition at the 2018 International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam. Announced by Sir Elton John and the Duke of Sussex, the MenStar Coalition brings together the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Unitaid, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), Johnson & Johnson, and Gilead Sciences. Leveraging over $1.2 billion in initial planned funding from these founding partners, MenStar will expand the diagnoses and treatment of HIV infections in men keys to breaking the cycle of HIV transmission and ultimately ending the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.
Recent data from many high-burden countries show that men, particularly those aged 24-35, access HIV testing and treatment at low rates, endangering their own health and also expanding the spread of HIV among adolescent girls and young women.
MenStar will support innovative approaches to deliver appropriate and effective HIV/AIDS services for men, increasing their rapid uptake of HIV testing, linkage to HIV treatment, and achievement of viral suppression. Multiple approaches will be deployed including: data analytics and human-centered design to better adapt services to men; nuanced demand creation; targeted marketing; innovations, such as HIV self-testing; and supply-side solutions. The partnership will also ensure essential HIV commodities and services are available to meet increased consumer demand.
MenStar brings together the HIV service delivery capacities of the public sector with the consumer-oriented marketing acumen of the private sector to optimize efforts in reaching men with HIV testing and treatment. One of the first initiatives under MenStar will be a new HIV self-testing campaign supported by the Elton John Foundation, CIFF, and Unitaid aimed at young men in Kenya. The coalition will also support specific male-friendly strategies for HIV service delivery, such as dedicated men’s corners at existing health clinics, expanded clinic hours, and deeper community engagement to better reach men.
With a contribution of over $800 million to reach men in the next year, the United States, through PEPFAR, plans to reach an additional 1 million men with HIV treatment through its investment and support over 90% of men in this age group to be virally suppressed to effectively interrupt HIV transmission.
Given the common vision and interconnectivity between these individual efforts, the partners have formed a coalition to enhance each other’s work and achieve greater impact, including by accelerating countries’ progress toward reaching the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS 90-90-90 targets by 2020 for all ages, genders, and at-risk groups.
Sir Elton John commented: “It was a privilege to be able to launch such an important coalition of global partners as MenStar and for the Elton John AIDS Foundation to play such a pivotal role in its establishment. As a charity, we always try to pioneer new approaches to critical problems, then work with bigger players to optimize their impact. MenStar will give the Elton John AIDS Foundation the chance to do just that, to share learning quickly and complement one another’s activities.”