NEW YORK CITY – Socially responsible money managers and religious pension funds today announced they are asking insurance giant American International Group (AIG) to report to shareholders on the threat the HIV/AIDS – TB – Malaria pandemics pose to the company, which has a major international presence and operates in 130 countries.

Geeta Aiyer, President of Boston Common Asset Management, a pioneer in global socially responsible investing, explained “The insurance and financial services industry is particularly exposed to HIV/AIDS, because this disease shifts the demographics of entire continents. As the pandemic expands from Africa to India, Russia, and China, we need to hear how AIG will respond.”

Investor concerns about the impact of the HIV/AIDS Pandemic are borne out by recent economic studies. A recent World Bank report warns, “a complete economic collapse will occur” unless there is a response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in southern Africa. Even “a delay in responding to the outbreak of the epidemic, however, can lead to collapse.”

Vidette Bullock-Mixon, Director, Corporate Relations and Social Concerns, General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits, UMC (GBOPHB, UMC), the largest denominational not-for-profit financial service organization in the United States, continued, “Dealing effectively with HIV/AIDS is a core corporate social responsibility issue, and some financial services companies have become models for their peers. AIG can follow those models to help improve the communities where it operates.”

South African insurance giant Old Mutual has received widespread praise for its handling of HIV/AIDS issues, which includes providing their workers with treatment with anti-retroviral drugs, as well as implementing aggressive prevention programs. Old Mutual also conducted an in-depth survey of how HIV impacted their operations and is making appropriate changes to their business model as a result. Other companies with large African operations, including mining giant Anglo-American and Dutch beer maker Heineken, have taken similar steps to combat HIV/AIDS.

New evidence suggests that aggressive treatment and prevention programs in the workplace make business sense. The Harvard Business Review reports “Investments in programs that prevent infection and provide treatment for employees who have HIV/AIDS are profitable … their cost is less than the savings they lead to.”

“Never have the moral and the business case for action been more closely aligned,” concluded Ms. Aiyer. “We are encouraged that AIG is a member of the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS but we would like them to do more This information would be valuable to shareholders, and make a real difference in the lives of people around the world.”

Joining Boston Common and GBOPHB, UMC in filing the resolution with AIG are Catholic Healthcare West, Mennonite Mutual Aid (MMA), and The Passionists.

Published On: December 5, 2003Categories: From the Commons