The .HIV new gTLD

The Top-Level Domain (TLD) .HIV is designed to use the power of the Internet and employ Internet users to fight HIV and AIDS. The registered .HIV domain names will contribute to this goal in being the backbone of a charity. Funds from domain name registrations will be collected and used for charitable causes aiming to raise awareness and reduce the stigmatisation of people affected by HIV and AIDS. .HIV will give the topic a whole new visibility amongst Internet users – and .HIV domain names thus become the Red Ribbon of the digital age.

The fight against HIV⁄AIDS is recognized as one of the most urgent humanitarian obligations of all time. In 2010, 34 million people were infected with the virus and there were 1,8 million reported AIDS related deaths. HIV is considered to be the only long-term pandemic, affecting people’s lives and national economies around the world. 

Effective treatment is now possible, making an HIV infection a chronic disease when treated early and constantly. But medication is costly, weighing severely on public health budget and with highest HIV prevalence rates in low- and middle-income countries; access to treatment has not even reached 50% of all patients in 2010 (1).

In a renewed call for action, the United Nations Member States agreed on the “Political Declaration on HIV⁄AIDS: Intensifying Our Efforts to Eliminate HIV⁄AIDS” in June 2011. This declaration commits to further funding, coordination of scientific research and programs as well as the goal of universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care (2). 

These days, the fight against HIV⁄AIDS is at a turning point: for the first time since the detection of the virus in 1981 it seems thinkable that the pandemic can be stopped. As UNAIDS puts it: “The knowledge and the tools to defeat AIDS now exist. Decisions made now will determine whether this is truly the beginning of the end of AIDS“ (3). The Top-Level Domain .HIV is situated in this political and historical context.

The TLD .HIV is designed to serve this specific social cause. It uses the global network that is the Internet to tackle a problem that is present around the globe – because a global problem needs a global solution. Therefore, dotHIV aims at integrating as many companies, social organizations and individuals in the .HIV namespace as possible: .HIV will be an open TLD, generally available to all registrants without nexus or pre-qualification requirements (except in Sunrise). Individuals, businesses and organizations can use the domains. We do not plan on requiring that users maintain websites or format them in any particular way respecting the fact that registrants have varying goals and situations how they want to engage in their fight against AIDS.

With this openness in mind, the TLD .HIV will act as a global communication tool for change and support the AIDS response in three major ways:
  1. Firstly, the TLD registry dotHIV serves as a fundraising tool for the fight against the disease. All registration fees exceeding operational costs will be used to serve the social cause. We aim at distributing the largest part – at least 50% – of every registration fee. The .HIV TLD opens up a new source of fundraising, which will help to close the financial gap for an effective answer to the disease.
    For the year of 2010 UNAIDS estimated a financial need amounting to UDS 25.9 billion to fight AIDS globally – but only USD 15.9 billion were available. For the first time in HIV history, one could see a decline in financial commitment from donor nations. This development continues as the international economic crisis puts pressure on public households. As international public commitment, which is accounting for 95% of investments in the AIDS response, is on a draw back, funds from private sector actors become even more important (1). This is where the Top-Level Domain .HIV comes in, giving corporate and individual registrants the opportunity to register a .HIV-domain name as a symbol of solidarity, gathering the registrations fees and distributing it to dedicated organizations around the globe. Based on the medium scenario of domain name registrations, € 4.934.074 are expected to go to charity in the first three years of operations.
  2. Secondly, Internet users get actively connected to the topic: the Top-Level Domain .HIV brings HIV back into people’s minds. In the broad public, awareness of HIV is still too low for effective prevention, and on further decline in industrialized countries. This relates in particular to young people, who are at the forefront of the epidemic: they accounted for 41% of all new HIV infections among adults in 2009. Global surveys show that amongst young people between 15 and 24, only a third had comprehensive knowledge of the disease in 2009 and HIV testing and condom usage stay at the same low levels (4). This lack of self protection ultimately results in the estimated 60% of all people living with HIV who do not know their status and thereby impend their chance to look after their own health and that of their loved ones (3).
    To address and reach young people, it is important to use their communication media. The Top-Level Domain .HIV implants the AIDS response in the DNA of the Internet: .HIV domain names work as every day reminders of the disease and are embedded in a larger social media approach involving Internet users through feedback and the possibilities to participate (see our answer to Q #18b i-iii).
  3. Thirdly, registrants become flag bearers of the AIDS response. The Top-Level Domain .HIV will fight the stigma related to HIV. The diagnosis HIV+ has far-reaching social consequences: In 2010, more than a third of those carrying the virus reported serious discrimination and exclusion e.g. due to loss of their job, travel restrictions or being refused medical care (5). Governments also point out that stigmatization is the greatest impediment to suppressing the number of new infections: fear of stigmatization silences people and silence impedes the only true prevention – information and knowledge about HIV. An efficient AIDS response not only aims to provide universal access to therapies but also must adopt a bottom-up approach. As long as the infected continue to be ostracized, further measures will not be effective. The Top-Level Domain .HIV creates an incentive for large companies to position themselves publicly with their .HIV domain name. This visible commitment works against the stigmatization of those living with HIV. It is via this principle that the Top-Level Domain .HIV becomes the Red Ribbon of the digital age (see our answer to Q #48⁄Derivation of Demand).
Following these three fields of impact, the Top-Level Domain .HIV creates a lively namespace open to everybody: Companies from within and outside the medical field, international and non-governmental organizations, public entities and individuals, providing both topic-related content and a new surfing experience to Internet users. It is an online space dedicated to a common social goal and thus gives the fight against AIDS a new virtual arena.
To ensure the constant primacy and reliability of social impact, dotHIV is incorporated as a charitable association under German law. The fulfilment of the charitable goal of the organization as stated in the articles of association is part of regular fiscal monitoring procedures executed by independent accountants and with reporting commitment to German fiscal authorities. Please find the articles of association as well as the certificate on the charitable nature of the organization attached to Question #45.
List of References:
  • UNAIDS Progress Report 2011: http:⁄⁄goo.gl⁄fxKhd
  • UN General Secretary Report 2011: http:⁄⁄goo.gl⁄7qdFg
  • UNAIDS World AIDS Day report 2011: http:⁄⁄goo.gl⁄XQtXb
  • UNICEF Opportunity in Crisis 2011: http:⁄⁄goo.gl⁄1cXRH
  • HIV Stigma Index: http:⁄⁄www.stigmaindex.org⁄
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Jovenet Consulting,
Aug 3, 2016, 8:57 AM