Press Release

PEPFAR and the George W. Bush Institute Welcome Merck to the Partnership to End AIDS and Cervical Cancer Among HIV-Positive Women in Africa

Merck’s contribution will include provision of HPV vaccine for use in a cohort of HIV-positive women in Eswatini and Namibia

Vancouver, British Columbia (June 5, 2019) – At the Women Deliver 2019 Conference in Vancouver, the U.S. President Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the George W. Bush Institute (Bush Institute) announced that Merck (known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada) has joined them in the Partnership to End AIDS and Cervical Cancer among HIV-positive women in Africa.

The Partnership was announced in May 2018 alongside a $30 million initial investment from PEPFAR. The collaborative effort aims to reduce cervical cancer incidence by 95 percent among approximately 3.5 million women living with HIV in eight African countries with the highest rates of HIV prevalence and cervical cancer deaths in the world. Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the major cause of cervical cancer, and women who are HIV-positive are four to five times more likely to develop invasive cervical cancer.

“We are thrilled to welcome Merck to this partnership,” said Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, M.D., U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy. “HIV and cervical cancer are on a collision course in many high-burden African countries. PEPFAR is aggressively investing against these dual risks. We are striving toward the day when no HIV-positive woman succumbs to cervical cancer.”

Among Merck’s contributions to the goals of the Partnership are the provision of HPV vaccine for use in a cohort of HIV-positive women in Eswatini and Namibia through an exploratory research study. The study will help determine appropriate dosage for HIV-positive women. This vaccine helps prevent certain HPV-related cancers, including cervical cancer, and diseases caused by the nine HPV types in the vaccine.

“At Merck, we are committed to addressing the health care needs of women in the developing world and are pleased to support PEPFAR on this important initiative,” said Kenneth C. Frazier, chairman and chief executive officer, Merck. “Through this partnership we will be addressing HPV infection in a population most heavily impacted by HPV related cancer, not only through screening for and treating HPV, but also preventing it in the first place.”

The focus of the partnership is an accelerated strategy for prevention, screening, and treatment with the goal of significantly reducing HPV-related cervical cancer in HIV-positive women as well as nationwide cervical cancer rates in Sub-Saharan Africa. More than 100,000 women are diagnosed annually with cervical cancer in Sub-Saharan Africa, where it is the leading cancer killer of women.

“This partnership is taking the next step to protect women living with HIV from HPV-related cervical cancer, which can be prevented through the HPV vaccine Merck is providing for this study. The Partnership to End AIDS and Cervical Cancer protects the investments the U.S. has made through PEPFAR by ensuring women can live long and healthy lives,” said Holly Kuzmich, Executive Director of the Bush Institute.

“Merck’s provision of an already-proven effective HPV vaccine to a new study to determine its best use in women living with HIV will help the Partnership to End AIDS and Cervical Cancer accelerate its lifesaving efforts. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners, the George W. Bush Institute and PEPFAR, as well as Merck, to ensure further strides are made quickly against our target of ensuring no woman living with HIV dies of cervical cancer,” said Gunilla Carlsson, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS Executive Director, a.i.


George W. Bush Institute
Housed within the George W. Bush Presidential Center, the George W. Bush Institute is an action-oriented, nonpartisan policy organization with the mission of developing leaders, advancing policy, and taking action to solve today’s most pressing challenges. For more information, please visit

PEPFAR is the United States government’s response to the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, which has invested over $85 billion since 2003 – the largest commitment by any nation to address a single disease in history. Through the compassion and generosity of the American people, PEPFAR has saved 17 million lives, prevented millions of HIV infections, and helped transform the global HIV/AIDS response. For more information, please visit, and connect with PEPFAR on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

For more than a century, Merck, a leading global biopharmaceutical company known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world’s most challenging diseases. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to health care through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. Today, Merck continues to be at the forefront of research to advance the prevention and treatment of diseases that threaten people and communities around the world – including cancer, cardio-metabolic diseases, emerging animal diseases, Alzheimer’s disease and infectious diseases including HIV and Ebola. For more information, visit and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn.