Frontline AIDS congratulates Winnie Byanyima on her appointment as UNAIDS Executive Director

© UN
Winnie Byanyima is the newly appointed UNAIDS Executive Director.

Brighton, August 15, 2019: Frontline AIDS today welcomed the UN Secretary-General’s announcement that Winnie Byanyima will become the next Executive Director of United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

Ms Byanyima, who will become the organisation’s first female Executive Director when she takes up the role, will join UNAIDS from Oxfam International, which she has led for the past six years. Ms Byanyima is a renowned human rights advocate with a commitment to community-level action. She has also served as a member of the Ugandan parliament.

Ms Byanyima will join UNAIDS at a critical moment in the HIV response. Recent figures released by the organisation show unequivocally that AIDS is not over, especially for marginalised people. 770,000 people died of AIDS-related illnesses in 2018 and an estimated 1.7 million were newly infected with HIV, more than half of them people from key populations – gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender people, people who use drugs and sex workers – and their partners. Yet political will for the HIV response is declining, and civil society organisations and human rights activists, particularly those working with the most marginalised people, are operating in increasingly constrained and repressive environments.

“Under Winnie Byanyima’s dynamic leadership, we want to see UNAIDS reinvigorate the HIV response,” said Christine Stegling, Executive Director of Frontline AIDS. “A strong UNAIDS can help rebuild political will to tackle the epidemic, bring greater focus to HIV prevention and increase political commitment to human rights. Frontline AIDS will continue to be a strong partner for UNAIDS as we work together towards a future free from AIDS for everyone, everywhere.”

Ms Byanyima will lead UNAIDS in the wake of an independent report that highlighted significant failings across the organisation in dealing with concerns about malpractice and misconduct. The report called for significant changes, including at leadership level.

“Winnie is uniquely qualified to transform the culture at UNAIDS and ensure it is fit to lead the coordination of the global HIV response,” added Christine Stegling. “She has the expertise and experience to undertake the fundamental reforms required to make UNAIDS a standard bearer for accountability, fairness and transparency both internally and externally.”