UK must safeguard HIV funding despite cuts to aid budget

A nurse receives funding to do HIV tests for marginalised people © Frontline AIDS/Peter Caton/2019
Nurses provide essential SRHR services to marginalised people, including HIV testing

The UK has revealed plans to cut Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) by £2.9 billion, following an announcement last month to merge the Department for International Development (DFID) with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) in the autumn.

Christine Stegling, Executive Director at Frontline AIDS said:

“The UK’s plans to cut aid are very concerning, especially at this time when UNAIDS is warning that a decade of gains made on HIV are under threat because of disruption caused by COVID-19. While critical issues including poverty reduction, girls’ education and the COVID-19 response have been identified as continued priorities for UK aid, there is no mention of HIV or global health more broadly.

“Frontline AIDS receives UK aid as a sub-recipient on Approaches in Complex and Challenging Environments for Sustainable SRHR (ACCESS), a pioneering programme which aims to reach the most marginalised and under-served people with lifesaving HIV and reproductive health services, and to address sexual and gender based violence. The programme has been in limbo for several months, awaiting a decision on its future.

“Frontline AIDS strongly urges the UK government to continue support for ACCESS and to safeguard DFID funding for HIV more broadly, including UK support to the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria. We also ask the UK to ensure that DFID’s leadership on HIV and global health are retained in the new Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office. It would be extremely short-sighted if, in its response to one pandemic, the UK inadvertently risks lives in another.”

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COVID-19FundingHIV prevention and treatmentSRHR