UK Government cuts funding for UNAIDS by more than 80%

A man looking at a map of the world

The UK Government will drastically reduce its annual commitment to the UN's HIV programme to £2.5 million this year, a decision described by Frontline AIDS as "maddeningly shortsighted".

The UK has funded the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV & AIDS (UNAIDS) £15 million a year for the past five years. This reduced commitment represents a swingeing cut of more than 80%, despite the pressures of COVID-19 having brought the global HIV response to a tipping point.

Responding to the news, Christine Stegling, Executive Director at Frontline AIDS said:

“It’s clear that the UK Government has not learned one of the most basic lessons of this pandemic. Disinvesting in public health only stores up problems for the future.

“For the first time in decades, there is a very real threat of hard-won progress on HIV and AIDS going into reverse. These cuts by the UK Government will actively increase that risk, setting the stage for a surge in HIV rates and AIDS deaths across many countries.

“The UK Government might also reflect on the fact that HIV, much like COVID-19, doesn’t recognise borders. An increase in rates in any country should and will eventually become an issue for every country. A maddeningly short-sighted decision.”

The slashing of UNAIDS’ budget is part of a programme of drastic cuts affecting civil society organisations worldwide – both in HIV & AIDS and in wider sexual and reproductive health and rights – as the UK reduces its international aid commitments from 0.7% to 0.5% of GNI.

UNAIDS is leading the global effort to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.Since the first cases of HIV were reported more than 35 years ago, 78 million people have become infected with HIV and 35 million have died from AIDS-related illnesses. Since it started operations in 1996, UNAIDS has led and inspired global, regional, national and local leadership, innovation and partnership to ultimately consign HIV to history.

For more information, read the press release here.