FOSTER CITY, Calif., June 23, 2019 – Gilead Sciences, Inc. today announced that it has become an official partner of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations – Africa’s biggest football competition. During the tournament, Gilead is working in partnership with local organizations to launch a new hepatitis B and C awareness campaign, called Kick Virus B & C.
The Kick Virus B & C campaign is designed to raise awareness across Africa of the threat posed by viral hepatitis and to provide information on how to get tested. As an official partner of the Africa Cup of Nations, the campaign will be visible to millions of football fans through branding at stadiums across Egypt, a campaign website and the tournament’s official website, social media content, and an interactive display at the Cairo International Stadium.
“We are excited to be kicking off this important public health campaign at the Africa Cup of Nations. Too many people are unaware that they are living with hepatitis B or C, putting themselves and their loved ones at risk of serious complications and even premature death,” said Clifford Samuel, Senior Vice President, Access Operations and Emerging Markets, Gilead Sciences. “Working with our partners across the continent, we want to encourage people to get tested and if diagnosed, to access the appropriate healthcare.”
Chronic viral hepatitis affects more than 70 million Africans (60 million with hepatitis B and 10 million with hepatitis C) and kills more people in Africa each year than tuberculosis, malaria or HIV. The disease often affects the most youthful and productive members of the African population.
The new campaign will look to address the fact that few people with viral hepatitis have been diagnosed due to limited awareness and access to testing. This is a problem in Africa, but also globally, where only 20 percent of the estimated 71 million people living with hepatitis C have been diagnosed. For the estimated 257 million people living with hepatitis B around the world, this figure stands at only nine percent.
In 2016, the World Health Assembly (the decision-making body of the WHO) adopted the Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis, which called for elimination of viral hepatitis as a major public health threat by 2030. This strategy set targets to reduce the number of new infections by 90 percent and mortality rates by 65 percent. This new campaign is designed to support local healthcare and community organizations across Africa to help meet these targets.
“The Confédération Africaine de Football (CAF) is pleased to partner with Gilead on this campaign and believe it will help to build greater awareness of the need for Hepatitis B and C screening and testing across our continent,” said CAF President Ahmad Ahmad.
“The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations will commence with a new 24-team format, increasing the size of its reach. The tournament is therefore the ideal platform to help this campaign communicate across the entire continent,” he concluded.
Further details on the Kick Virus B & C campaign can be found at www.kickthevirus.com. The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations is the 32nd edition of the tournament and takes place in Egypt from June 21-July 19, 2019, with a total of 24 nations competing.