Health awareness

Facing global shortage, Merck commits to meeting patient demand

We know how important it is to get medicines to the people who need them and providing those medicines is at the center of what we do

January 24, 2024

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TICE Facing global shortage, Merck commits to meeting patient demand for crucial treatment option

In 2012, Merck unexpectedly became the sole manufacturer of TICE® BCG BCG LIVE (for intravesical use) in many countries around the world. Increasing global demand has outpaced our current maximum manufacturing capabilities. In recognition of the medical need for this product, Merck continues to operate at maximum production capacity. Due to the increasing global demand, Merck has been experiencing a supply shortage for TICE BCG. 

In October 2020, we announced our plans to construct a new manufacturing facility in Durham, North Carolina, to significantly expand our production capacity for TICE BCG. This investment reaffirms Merck’s longstanding commitment to producing this medicine, and all our medicines, for patients who need them.

If patients have questions regarding TICE BCG, they should speak with their physicians.  Additional information related to the shortage, current allocation practices and Merck’s efforts to increase supply, including construction of a new manufacturing site, is below.





Innovation

The Wall Street Journal names Merck among top 10 best-managed companies 

We’re proud to be recognized for our strong performance and unwavering commitment to patients

January 11, 2024

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Our company has been recognized for our leadership and strong performance powering the work we do for patients and everyone who depends on us. We were named No. 10 on The Wall Street Journal’s list of the 250 best-managed publicly traded U.S. companies in 2023, advancing 78 places from the previous year.

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“This recognition reaffirms our strategic focus, innovation, hard work and collective, unwavering commitment to our purpose of saving and improving lives each and every day.”

— Rob Davis

Chairman and chief executive officer

“To make the list of The Wall Street Journal’s 250 best-managed companies is quite an honor,” Davis said, “and to be ranked in the top 10 is especially exciting and humbling.” 

This year, nearly 800 companies were scored. Placement on the list is determined by a company’s strength in five components:

  1. Customer satisfaction
  2. Employee engagement and development
  3. Innovation
  4. Social responsibility
  5. Financial strength

We placed first in customer satisfaction and were one of seven companies to score in the top 20% in each of the five components.

“Customer satisfaction is directly tied to the innovation we bring and the benefit we can deliver for patients,” Davis told The Wall Street Journal.

Top ranking for corporate citizenship 

In addition to our Wall Street Journal recognition, we’re deeply honored to be ranked No. 1 on Newsweek’s 2024 list of America’s Most Responsible Companies. This marks our first time in the lead spot, a distinction that affirms our steadfast commitment to operating responsibly and doing good for people and the planet.  

Health awareness

Empowering others to speak up about HPV-related cancers

The impact of Gina’s diagnosis inspired her to help others prioritize their health

January 5, 2024

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After 20 years of normal cervical screenings,* Gina Esposito was confident her next routine screening wouldn’t be any different. So, when she was diagnosed with human papillomavirus (HPV)-related cervical precancer at 47 years old, she was surprised.

“The sinking feeling I had when I received my diagnosis was intense because I wasn’t expecting it,” she said.

*A cervical screening, often referred to as a pap test or pap smear, looks for precancers or cell changes that might become cervical cancer if not treated appropriately.

The impact of HPV-related cancers and diseases

More than 80% of cervical cancers are associated with HPV. For most people, HPV clears on its own. But for those who don’t clear the virus, it could cause certain cancers and diseases.

After her diagnosis, Esposito underwent a procedure to remove the abnormal cells from her cervix. When a follow-up test showed that there were still some abnormal cells present, she consulted with a doctor and decided to get a hysterectomy.

At first, she felt embarrassed by her diagnosis. As she started to share her story, she noticed that others felt ashamed to speak about HPV-related cancers and diseases. She knew something had to change.

“I have a newfound responsibility to take the stigma away, to say ‘the shame has to go away,’ whether you’re a woman or a man,” Esposito said.

Throughout her experience, she says her daughter has been a source of strength.

“You don’t want your child to be without you or to experience the loss of a parent. You want to be around for all of their milestones and they want you around,” Esposito said. “So, she keeps me motivated because there’s an expectation that mom’s going to be around.”

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“I try to be a positive disruptor in this space and normalize it so that people go for early screenings and routine screenings and that they get treatment if they need it.”

— Gina Esposito

The importance of routine care

In some ways, Esposito considers herself lucky. Her commitment to prioritizing routine care helped her catch her disease early.

“I’m so glad I took the time to go to my screening – it helped catch my disease early,” she said.

Esposito is working to ensure her daughter also prioritizes getting routine care and understands the value of prioritizing her health, especially as she approaches adulthood.

“She knows you need to own your own health because no one else is going to do it for you,” she said. Esposito encourages colleagues across our company to prioritize their health, too.

Esposito plans to continue helping men and women feel comfortable discussing HPV-related disease and get the preventative care they need.

“When I talk with others, I focus on what happened to me so they can use it as an example,” Esposito said. “I get people emailing me, texting me, going, ‘I’m going to make my appointment today.’ And if we can have one person that we get early, then my job is done.”

Health awareness

The impact of RSV: a father’s story and call for prevention

When his own daughters became sick, one colleague saw firsthand the need to protect kids from RSV

December 14, 2023

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two girls smiling under Eiffel Tower

Frederik Tack, a Merck employee and devoted father, has spent over a decade working in infectious diseases. So, when his daughters both contracted respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections, the impact of his work hit especially close to home.

RSV is a contagious, widespread seasonal infection that is similar to the flu. While people infected with RSV are usually contagious for about three to eight days, infants can continue to spread the virus even after they stop showing symptoms for up to one month.

“Being quite familiar with infectious diseases, I knew the basics of RSV and that almost all children contract it at least once before they’re 2 years old,” said Tack, executive director for our company in France.

"For most healthy children, RSV is like a cold, but for some it can become complicated. And unfortunately, my family witnessed these complications firsthand."

Frederik Tack

Executive director, France

Tack’s eldest daughter, Oriane, developed RSV and bronchiolitis at just 1 year old, leading to dehydration and a brief hospital stay for one night. A few years later, his second daughter, Anora, contracted the virus twice and experienced even more severe complications, including pneumonia that required a week-long stay in the hospital. Fortunately, Tack’s daughters both recovered following their hospital visits and have not experienced any long-term effects of the virus.

“As you can imagine, it was a pretty stressful time,” he said. “After experiencing it myself, my hope is that other parents won’t have to go through such an uncertain and frightening experience.”

The impact of RSV on infants and families

Grateful that his daughters are now healthy and fully recovered, Tack is acutely aware of the near- and long-term complications many other children may face with RSV. RSV can impact both children and adults but is particularly threatening for infants, who may not be able to fight the virus on their own. It can potentially lead to more serious respiratory conditions like asthma, bronchiolitis or pneumonia.

“In the first years that followed, we often held our breath, hoping those experiences with RSV wouldn’t repeat themselves or provoke long-term complications of other respiratory conditions,” Tack said.

A closer look at RSV

— RSV is contagious and can be spread through virus droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through direct contact with the virus, like kissing the face of a child with RSV.

— The virus can cause cold-like symptoms, including a runny nose, fever, coughing and wheezing.

— It’s one of the most common causes of infant hospitalizations in the U.S. and a leading cause globally.

~58-80K

Hospitalizations among children <5 years old each year in the U.S.

~100-300

Deaths in children <5 years old each year in the U.S.

~3.6M

Estimated hospitalizations globally each year in children under 5 years old*

~101K

Estimated deaths caused by RSV globally each year in children under 5 years old*

~95%

An estimated >95% of RSV infections and >97% of RSV-related deaths globally occur in resource-limited countries*

*Data based on 2019 estimates.

There’s a widespread need for protection for both healthy and high-risk infants from RSV globally, including in resource-limited countries where RSV represents a substantial burden of disease. And during RSV season, the impact can be even greater. RSV can put a significant strain on the health care system, but most importantly, it impacts families who want to help protect their children and keep them healthy.

Tack said he takes great pride in being part of a company with over 130 years of innovative work dedicated to reducing the devastating toll of certain infectious diseases around the world.

“Nobody wants to see their children suffering with little that you can do to help them,” said Tack.

“I’m inspired by the ongoing commitment and dedication within the public health space to help address these diseases through scientific innovations.”

— Frederik Tack

Health awareness

Biomarker testing may help inform treatment decisions in certain cancers

An oncologist explains why cancer biomarkers may provide more precise information about a person's cancer

December 5, 2023

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Scientist at Merck

Over the past 20+ years, there’s been an evolution in how we think about cancer. Cancer biomarkers — substances produced by tumor cells that reflect unique features of a tumor — can change the approach to certain cancers.

Advances in biomarker testing may help inform treatment decisions

It wasn’t long ago when conversations were about simply “breast cancer” or “lung cancer.” Now, physicians can get a lot more precise.

Merck's Scott Pruitt

“We’ve come to understand that two people with the same type of cancer may have differences in the specific changes in the genes, proteins and other substances that may allow cancer cells to grow and spread.”

  • Dr. Scott Pruitt
    Associate vice president, early-stage development, clinical oncology, Merck Research Laboratories

“The field of breast cancer research was arguably the first to realize that there are multiple cancer subtypes and that biomarker testing could help inform therapy,” said Pruitt.

In the treatment of breast cancer, understanding various tumor biomarkers and pairing that understanding to help guide selection of relevant medicines has helped physicians evaluate potential treatment approaches. And the same is true in lung cancer where understanding tumor biomarkers has been used to help guide therapy aimed at targeting certain genetic mutations.

Biomarkers may help us understand a cancer better and how to approach it. That’s why biomarker testing may be an important next step after a cancer diagnosis.

Key terms to know:

  • Biomarker: a measurable indicator of a biological state or condition found in blood or tissues.
  • Biomarker testing: medical tests to look for measurable indicators (genes, proteins and other substances) that may provide information about a biological state or condition.
  • Biopsy: the removal of cells or tissue for examination.
  • Genetic testing: medical tests to look for certain mutations in a person’s genes that may be a sign of a disease or condition.

Biomarker testing after a cancer diagnosis

blood test vial

Blood test

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Biopsy of the tumor

Testing for proteins and/or genes to look for known biomarkers

Testing for proteins and/or genes to look for known biomarkers

Biomarker testing and genetic testing may enable detailed characterization of some cancers

Some biomarker tests can find inherited genetic changes that you may have been born with that may increase your risk of cancer or other diseases. Genetic testing might help determine if you have certain mutations (for example, the BRCA gene) which could help inform treatment options.

Merck has been at the forefront of research to advance the understanding of biomarkers for certain cancers.

"We're fully invested in leveraging biomarker data to help inform cancer care."

— Dr. Scott Pruitt

“Across our oncology studies in every phase of development, we continue to incorporate multiple biomarker approaches to more fully understand biology as well as identify new targets of interest,” Pruitt said.

Discussing biomarker testing with a health care provider

If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, it’s important to ask your doctor about biomarker testing. Start with these questions which may help you prepare for conversations with your doctor:

  • Is biomarker testing appropriate for the type of cancer that I have?
  • If there’s a chance my cancer was caused by an inherited risk factor, should I undergo further testing?
Sustainability

Collaborating to help make cancer care more accessible worldwide

How we’re advancing health equity through partnerships to help patients navigate cancer care

November 30, 2023

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In underserved and under-resourced communities across the globe, from the U.S. to Rwanda, our company is helping patients at risk for and living with cancer access the care they need to stay well and lead fulfilling lives.

We have a global-to-local approach, where we support programs and initiatives that help advance health equity directly in communities around the world by addressing barriers that people may face when accessing high-quality, equitable health care.

Advancing patient-centered cancer care in every community

Our company collaborates with the American Cancer Society (ACS) to address high disparities in cancer care. In the U.S, we partnered with ACS on its Get Screened Initiative, which encourages people to schedule regular cancer screening tests. Through this initiative:

~497K

vulnerable community members enabled to be screened in 2021 and 2022 combined

~11,200

incidences of breast, cervical and colorectal cancer found

Our company also supports Get Screened’s efforts focused on increasing access to lung cancer screening in communities with historical inequities. Through this effort, which includes mobile screening, community outreach, patient navigation and other support, ACS aims to reach up to 10,000 additional eligible individuals.

We’re also helping the ACS bring its expertise in patient navigation to resource-limited settings in sub-Saharan Africa as well as develop a toolkit to help low- and middle-income countries adopt navigation programs as part of delivering comprehensive cancer care.

Our global partnerships at work

In addition, we’ve partnered with City Cancer Challenge to implement a Patient Navigation Program in Kigali, Rwanda. With our support, City Cancer Challenge has trained nurses to become patient navigators. They help patients understand health information more easily, identify and assess cancer care gaps and barriers, help to accelerate the path to health care options, and mitigate the risk of patients falling out of the care continuum.

Olivier Habimana, a cancer patient navigator with City Cancer Challenge, said he witnessed first-hand how this program has given his team the ability to effectively communicate, share and exchange information so that vital data can be used for the benefit of cancer patients.

“Before the implementation of this project, patients faced all sorts of challenges. If they were referred to a hospital for cancer care, sometimes they’d go to the wrong hospital, while others missed their follow-up visits.”

  • Olivier Habimana
Oliver Hamimana

The Patient Navigation Program has created an impact in the east African country:

1,220+

patients supported by the program

Building on our legacy for high-quality, equitable care now and in the future

We continue to forge new partnerships to help reach underserved and under-resourced communities. This includes:

  • Partnering to improve access to cancer care to under-served communities in Georgia.
  • Supporting solutions like MedHaul that can help to address transportation barriers to accessing care.
  • Providing access to educational and advocacy resources on the unique challenges faced by Black women
    diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC).
  • Working with Go Further, a partnership that aims to reduce cervical cancer incidence in HIV positive women in eight African countries with the highest rates of HIV prevalence and cervical cancer deaths in the world.

Health awareness

Finding joy after surviving cervical cancer twice

How one woman embraced life, marriage and motherhood despite her cervical cancer diagnosis

November 17, 2023

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Chrstine Granado and her family

Several years ago, Christine Granado was living happily in New Jersey with her fiancé and then-9-year-old son, but she felt something wasn’t right.

In the span of a year, she lost three pregnancies. The first miscarriage came as a total shock. With the second, she felt confused. After the third, she was afraid something was terribly wrong. She decided to go for a routine checkup. While undergoing a series of tests ordered by her OB-GYN, she got surprising news: she was diagnosed with stage IIB squamous cell cervical cancer that had spread to her lymph nodes. At just 28, Christine said she felt disbelief.

“How can I have cancer at this age?” she asked herself. “I remember peeking through my bangs, feeling like I was trying to hide behind them.”

Young women are at risk for cervical cancer, too

Granado wasn’t alone in asking herself that question. Younger women (cervical cancer is most often diagnosed between the ages of 35-44) and Hispanic, American Indian and Alaska Native, and Black women in the U.S. are more likely to develop cervical cancer. In 2023, it’s estimated that about 13,960 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. Screenings may help to detect cervical changes before they turn cancerous, having played a part in reducing the incidence of cervical cancer by more than 50% from the mid-1970s to the mid-2000s. 

Beginning her cancer treatment journey

Granado started treatment as soon as possible. She was prepared for physical side effects but was overwhelmed by the other changes that soon followed, including how she felt about losing her fertility. She and her partner discussed preserving her eggs but decided against it as doing so would have delayed her treatment.

Granado’s cancer went into remission for three years, and she found joy again: She and her fiancé got married and decided to have a baby via surrogate.

The shock of a recurring cancer diagnosis

Then, soon before her son was born, Granado started having unexplained chest pains. A CT scan found enlarged lymph nodes. She was diagnosed with metastatic cancer.

“When I got the recurrence diagnosis, I was devastated. It was hard to hear, but it motivated me to finish things, to contact a lawyer and get things in my kids’ names — to think about life after me,” she said. 

It also motivated her to continue with more treatments. During her second round of treatment, Granado was able to welcome her new son. When she saw him, she took him in her arms: “I bawled my eyes out.” 

A focus on mental health 

In addition to her son’s arrival, Granado said a focus on herself has sharpened her resolve to live her best life. When the cancer came back, she grieved for her life. She would cry and sleep all day. Her depression stopped her from enjoying precious time with her family.

“The most disabling thing I dealt with was the depression,” she said. “There were days when I would feel physically OK, but I’d still stay in bed all day.” Thankfully, Granado had the support of a psychologist and a psychiatrist who helped her feel well again. 

little boy laying with a dog

Cervical cancer won’t stop her from living her best life 

Granado has been able to complete a master’s degree in health leadership, and her family has a new border collie named Harry. Even everyday activities like going to the hardware store and winding down with a book mean so much more now. She appreciates the small details, like watching TV with her son on the couch.

“Life has been amazingly boring,” she says. “In a good way.” 

Granado said she hopes her story will inspire women and give them hope that there’s so much life to be lived – including the boring moments – in the face of a cancer diagnosis.

Innovation

Harnessing innovative technology in drug discovery

Merck scientists explain how new technologies can accelerate the drug discovery process as we use the power of leading-edge science to save and improve lives

November 16, 2023

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Our scientists are leveraging state-of-the-art capabilities to discover novel molecules that may lead to the medicines of tomorrow. 

Merck Research Laboratories (MRL) scientists evaluate hundreds to thousands to up to billions of compounds to find a starting point for a new drug candidate. It all starts with identifying a target — usually a protein — that’s intrinsically associated with a particular disease and can be pharmacologically modulated. That’s where innovative tools like structure-based design, high-throughput screening and high-throughput experimentation, coupled with robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning can make a huge difference in progressing the work. And once a lead molecule is identified, cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM) as an emerging structural method can be used to understand and improve how a molecule interacts with the protein target.

Utilizing the latest technologies and diligent work by teams of highly skilled and experienced scientists can potentially accelerate the discovery of new medicines for patients in need.

“We have an incredibly creative, smart and hardworking workforce. It’s an absolute pleasure to be part of that and to have access to the resources necessary for making scientific breakthroughs.”

— Adam Weinglass

Executive director in quantitative biosciences
Innovation

Breaking new ground in the UK

We’re accelerating our global efforts and capabilities with our new London Discovery Research Centre and U.K. headquarters

November 10, 2023

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Using the power of leading-edge science to help save and improve lives means tapping into scientific talent around the world. That’s why we’re proud to break ground on our new London Discovery Research Centre and U.K. headquarters.

The high-profile site — located opposite King’s Cross Station in the heart of London’s Knowledge Quarter, an impressive cluster of academic, scientific and technological institutions — will be an impactful addition to our growing network of research facilities.

“Our talented discovery scientists in London are an integral part of our global research network.”

  • Dean Li
    President of Merck Research Laboratories

“Patients around the world are waiting for innovations that will help confront the tremendous burden of disease they face, and the kind of world-class scientific exploration this facility will enable is how we accelerate those innovations,” Li added.

Slated to open in 2027, the 270,000-square-foot, 10-story facility will bring together all our U.K. colleagues to help drive medical advances against some of today’s greatest health challenges.  

“With the benefit of London’s thriving life sciences ecosystem and Knowledge Quarter right on our doorstep, I’m excited about the collaboration opportunities, building toward an exciting new chapter, and what this represents for employees and our partnership with the local community and beyond,” said Ben Lucas, managing director, U.K. and Ireland.

Health awareness

The new generation making an impact on HIV

Meet these young advocates helping to lead the response to HIV around the world

November 10, 2023

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HIV young leaders collage

HIV remains a global pandemic. In 2022 alone, an estimated 1.3 million people worldwide were newly diagnosed with HIV.

Merck has been committed to advancing science for the treatment and prevention of HIV for more than 35 years, but we know it takes all of us to make a difference for the HIV community.

And that’s just what these International AIDS Society (IAS) Young Leaders are doing. In 2022, our company was proud to be one of the groups to support 11 Young Leaders to co-create the Youth Hub — a youth-led networking platform that empowers young change-makers living with and affected by HIV to lead in the HIV response. They’re an inspiring group of advocates with different backgrounds and experiences in the response to HIV, each striving to empower and educate others from their respective corners of the globe.

Let’s meet some of these young change-makers.

Norman Chong | Malaysia

Norman Chong is using their gift of storytelling to encourage young people across the world to ask “Why?” Chong has been working to develop a solution-oriented platform to help address gaps in the HIV response for young people in Malaysia.

With their platform, called “We Ask the Y (WAY)”, Chong aims to provide tools for young people living with and affected by HIV to learn and network in support of social health, as well as economic and political justice. Chong also trains young researchers to translate and communicate findings into evidence-informed policies and practices to address barriers to health care for young people.

“If I have anything at all, it’s anchored on moving the dial with the question, “Why?”, and advocating for health care to be accessible to all, for policies designed to protect and empower, and never to divide and conquer.”

  • Norman Chong

Linda Joseph Robert | Uganda

Dismantling HIV stigma to support young people is the motivation for everything Linda Joseph Robert does. As a youth advocate, he helps to promote increased access to quality adolescent sexual and reproductive health services for young people through peer support interventions, community engagements and strategic partnerships. His passion for youth advocacy, activism and HIV-related programming came to life when he led a campaign to help reduce HIV stigma and discrimination during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a young person living with HIV, Robert is driven to help increase access to HIV prevention, treatment and care services. Robert has held leadership positions including the role of youth advocate at AIDS Healthcare Foundation-Uganda Cares, and serves as a U=U Africa Forum Ambassador in Uganda.

“I’m motivated by the progress that has been made in the HIV field and excited to be part of the next generation of HIV professionals who will continue the journey toward ending the AIDS pandemic, where no one is left behind.”

  • Linda Joseph Robert

Elizabeth Onyango | Kenya

UKIMWI UNAUA is a term Elizabeth Onyango and others in Kenya know too well. Translated to “HIV kills,” this phrase influenced Onyango’s perception of HIV at a young age — as the messaging around HIV in her country was mostly about death and fear. Growing up, she lost close family and friends to HIV and saw how cultural beliefs and practices exposed young women and girls to HIV. It wasn’t until she went to high school that Onyango learned about ways to protect against HIV, which helped reduce the fear she grew up with — and sparked an interest in HIV prevention.

After high school, she volunteered at a female sex worker-led organization that champions human and health rights of sex workers. Today, Onyango continues to encourage young women to take action to ensure they have a say in decisions about their health.

“My goal is to champion meaningful engagement of women and girls in HIV prevention and advocate for structural changes to improve the quality of life of women living with HIV.”

  • Elizabeth Onyango

Isaac Ogunkola | Nigeria

A background in public health has given Isaac Ogunkola deep insight into the world of infectious diseases, especially HIV. His passion for HIV advocacy became clear after volunteering to encourage harm reduction for people who use drugs and promote sexual and reproductive health and rights programming for homeless children, refugees and young people.

Having witnessed young people in his community die as a result of drug overdose and HIV, Ogunkola is committed to unifying public health, harm reduction and human rights. Through his peer education project, he engages young refugees in West Africa to lead HIV prevention programs in their communities.

“I don’t want to see death in any age group or population caused by HIV or drug overdose again.”

  • Isaac Ogunkola

Ashley Rose Murphy | Canada

Ashley Murphy was 7 years old when her adoptive parents told her she was living with HIV. By age 10, Murphy began to speak publicly about living with HIV, talking to young people around the world about the stigma around HIV and how to protect and advocate for themselves. She’s been a key voice for youth activists engaged in the HIV response in Canada ever since presenting at the U.N. General Assembly and the Global Fund, and even hosting a TED Talk.

Today, Murphy is an ambassador for several foundations committed to ending the AIDS epidemic through research, government-funded programs, global advocacy, prevention, testing and treatment options. Murphy remains an inspiration for young Canadians living with or affected by HIV.

Ashley Rose Murphy

“I want everyone to know that an HIV diagnosis does not have to be the end of the world. We can continue to live healthy and fulfilling lives, but it starts with educating yourself about your diagnosis and, most importantly, being your own advocate.”

  • Ashley Rose Murphy

Paul Mavesere Ndhlovu | Zimbabwe

Paul Ndhlovu has been using his voice to help young people living with and vulnerable to HIV in his native Zimbabwe for years. He’s produced a peer-led radio show as the creative radio champion for Zvandiri, an organization that “connects children and young people living with HIV with peer counselors to help assure health, happiness and hope.”

In his role, Ndhlovu — together with other adolescents and young people — has created a youth-friendly environment for people living with HIV to freely discuss challenges and issues in their own lives. The show explains to young people the importance of HIV prevention behaviors, the need for increased HIV testing, their sexual and reproductive rights, and available resources to help with mental health and well-being needs.

Paul Mavesere Ndhlovu

“The Zvandiri Radio Show is such an important platform. We’re providing an open forum for people living with HIV to freely come as themselves and talk about any challenges they may face.”

  • Paul Mavesere Ndhlovu

Stefano Regner | Philippines

Stefano Regner’s schedule is always busy, and as a physiotherapist and sexual health advocate, his work revolves around helping others.

As a trained HIV screener, counselor, and speaker, Regner is constantly on the move — traveling across the Philippines to help link people living with HIV to immediate care and empowering people when it comes to understanding safer sex. He’s also been a research assistant for one of the Philippines’ largest grassroots HIV test-and-treat centers.

And today, as both a medical student and a social media influencer, Regner provides educational resources for people living with HIV, using health campaigns and videos.

Stefano Regner

“Social media provides a new platform and method to translate and communicate important topics about health and increasing health literacy. I enjoy sharing key information with my followers, especially as it relates to sexual and reproductive health among at-risk populations in the Philippines.”

  • Stefano Regner

Kalisito Biaukula | Fiji

Kalisito Biaukula’s motivation to give a voice to the voiceless and speak up for those in need is evidenced by their work across their island nation of Fiji and surrounding regions. 

As an intersectional, queer, feminist activist and human rights defender, Biaukula has worked with various civil society organizations addressing intersecting human rights issues for people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, and sex characteristics, in Asia and the Pacific.

Biaukula is a major advocate for people living with and impacted by HIV, fighting to ensure they receive the proper care and government assistance, and calling for comprehensive sexuality education at all levels.

Kalisito Biaukula

“It’s important for young people, especially those living in the Asia-Pacific region, to take a leading role in decisions that affect our bodies. We must all use our voices to stand up for human rights and ensure all populations are receiving equal opportunities to access care.”

  • Kalisito Biaukula

Sara Thapa Magar | Nepal

From a young age, Sara Magar developed an interest in social issues related to women and children living with HIV. This passion eventually led her to advocate for the needs and rights of affected populations living in the Asia-Pacific region.

Magar has been a board member of the International Community of Women Living with HIV Asia & Pacific (ICWAP) and has also spoken publicly about the need to support women-led organizations. In her current role as president of the National Federation of Women Living with HIV and AIDS (NFWLHA) in Nepal, Magar works to tackle gender inequalities and end gender-based violence.

Sara Thapa Magar

“As youth leaders, we need to continue bringing these issues to the forefront and work to partner with the government and advocacy groups to address the challenges of women and children living with HIV.”

  • Sara Thapa Magar

The future is in good hands with these young leaders, advocates and activists, and we’re excited to continue to watch the impact they make on their local and global communities. To learn more about this youth-led collaboration, visit the IAS Youth Hub.