Bono: ‘People think Aids is done – it’s not done’

‘Battle against Aids is not a last decade issue. It’s going to be the next decade issue’

It’s 10 years since Bono and Bobby Shriver established RED, a fund set up to fight AIDS and other diseases in developing countries, after meeting business leaders in Davos.

A decade later, the U2 star was back in the Swiss resort this week to celebrate the 10-year launch of the initiative which has raised more than $350 million for the fight against Aids.

Speaking to The Irish Times on the fringes of the World Economic Forum, Bono said his aim this year was to continue the momentum behind the campaign. "The battle against Aids is not a last decade issue. It's going to be the next decade issue. We need to finish the job, get new companies, new interest. It's kind of annoying and sometimes upsetting that these global health issues can become creatures of fashion. People think Aids is done – it's not done."

This week at Davos, Salesforce confirmed a $5 billion investment. Bono has also met with companies Weiss and Philips on Friday about potential investment. “To bring it to the next level, we need some new blood – 60 million lives have been touched by Red money – $350 million of it – we’re proud about that.”


To date, more than 60 companies have collaborated with Red, including Starbucks and Apple. The charity works by licensing a brand, Product Red, to companies who then donate part of the profits generated by the sale of products sold under that brand to the fund.

Bono was one of more than 2,000 individuals from the world of business, politics and social activism attending the 46th World Economic Forum.

Also present was Daire Hickey, one of the co-founders of Web Summit , the tech event which controversially announced plans to move to Lisbon next year. On Tuesday, Web Summit hosted a networking event which was attended by representatives of Facebook, Microsoft, the deputy chairman of Nasdaq, and a host of media start-ups. Hickey, who attended the IDA’s dinner with Taoiseach Enda Kenny on Thursday, said that preparations were progressing well for next year’s web summit in Lisbon.

“We’ve lined up some incredible speakers that we’re going to announce over the next few months. We’ve already sold more tickets than we had at this point last year for Dublin, so there’s been a huge interest.”

Speaking on the final day of the World Economic Forum, which had been overshadowed by concerns about the health of the global economy and signs of slowdown in China, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said that markets needed more “clarity and certainty” on how China was managing its currency, particularly the yuan’s relationship with the dollar. The IMF late last year announced that the renminbi – official currency of the People’s Republic of China – would be admitted into the fund’s basket of currencies.

Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda told the forum he believed China should use capital controls to stabilise its currency.

Despite this week’s sell-off in global equity markets, most analysts and senior banks at Davos played down the possibility of a major slowdown, predicting that China would experience a soft landing.

But billionaire financier George Soros disagreed. Speaking on Thursday he said a hard landing was “practically unavoidable” for China. “I’m not expecting it, I’m observing it,” he said.