Sony Corporation has joined the growing ranks of Japanese companies to enter into partnership with the Global Fund in an effort to stem the spread and impact of communicable diseases. Through this new partnership, Sony has donated some of its cutting-edge audio and visual equipment to a principal recipient of Global Fund support in Tanzania and provided pro bono training on proper use and maintenance of the equipment. The principal recipient, the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) is using the equipment, which is customized for outdoor use, to conduct public viewing events that intersperse public health programming with entertainment programs, including movies provided by Sony Pictures Entertainment. The public viewing events target young people in low-income areas of Tanzania with particularly high rates of HIV infection. AMREF was able to draw as many as 4,700 people to the events on November 5–13, 2011, which featured football games in addition to the movies and public health information. Voluntary testing and counseling (VCT) for HIV was also offered, and 2,482 participants took advantage of the VCT services at the events.
HIV testing is a critical tool in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and the Global Fund and its partners are constantly looking for innovative ways to encourage more people to voluntarily seek testing. Considering the success of the November events, Sony and the Global Fund hope to implement similar projects in other areas. The FGFJ is excited to see this partnership come to fruition and hopes that it will encourage more corporations to find creative ways of joining the fight against communicable diseases.