World leaders on HIV urge Boris Johnson to tackle new AIDS emergency at G7

More than 34 world experts and leaders in the movement to end AIDS, have signed an open letter urging Boris Johnson to tackle the growing emergency on HIV and AIDS when the G7 meets in June.

Spearheaded by Frontline AIDS and the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and backed by organisations including  the Global Network of People Living with HIV, the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa, STOPAIDS, Terence Higgins Trust and the National AIDS Trust, the letter addresses the Prime Minister as he prepares to Chair the Summit on 11 – 13 June, with a call to ensure the progress made in the HIV response is protected and built upon in the struggle against COVID-19 and future pandemics.

The letter highlights the long history of UK leadership on HIV, but warns these critical gains are in danger because of fallout from the Covid crisis, exacerbated by recent UK aid cuts, which have seen a significant reduction in vital support to end AIDS. It calls on the Prime Minister and G7 leaders to fully resource their commitment to end AIDS by 2030 and to invest in the existing infrastructure of the global HIV response as a key strategy to manage COVID-19 and future health threats.

With HIV prevention and treatment services disrupted or shut down by COVID-19 – in many places overnight – the letter highlights mounting concern that the number of new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths worldwide may begin to rise for the first time in decades.

Ahead of the summit, the UN High Level Meeting on HIV on 8 – 10 June and the 40th Anniversary of the first CDC report on AIDS on 5th June, the signatories argue that now is a vital opportunity for the G7 to rally the world to act to tackle HIV, COVID-19 and future pandemics together.

The full list of signatories includes:

  • Sir Elton John,Artist & Founder, Elton John AIDS Foundation
  • David Furnish,Chairman, Elton John AIDS Foundation
  • Jacquelyne Alesi, Chair GNP+ Board, on behalf of GNP+, the Global Network of People Living with HIV
  • Anne Aslett, Chief Executive, Elton John AIDS Foundation
  • Joyce Banda,President of the Republic of Malawi (2012-2014) and Champion for an AIDS- Free Generation
  • Ricardo Baptista Leite,President of the Global Parliamentarians Network to End Infectious Diseases
  • Dame Inga Beale,Chair, HIV Commission
  • Linda Gail Bekker,Professor of Medicine and Director of the Desmond Tutu HIV centre, University of Cape Town and former President of International AIDS Society (2016-2018)Edwin Cameron, Former Supreme Court Justice, South Africa
  • Stephen DoughtyMP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on HIV and AIDS
  • Mark Dybul,Former Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Professor of Medicine and Co-Director Center of Global Health Practice and Impact, Georgetown University
  • Lord Fowler, Former Lord Speaker
  • Deborah Gold, Chief Executive, National AIDS Trust
  • Eric Goosby, UN Special Envoy on Tuberculosis, Former United States Global AIDS Coordinator
  • Ian Green, Chief Executive, Terence Higgins Trust
  • The Right Honourable Justine Greening, Former Secretary of State for International Development
  • Tom Hart, Interim CEO, The ONE Campaign
  • Felicita Hikuam,Director, AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa
  • Richard Horton FRCP FMedSci, Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet
  • Dr Mo Ibrahim,Founder and Chair, Mo Ibrahim Foundation
  • Michel Kazatchkine,Former Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; Senior Fellow, Global Health Center, the Graduate Institute for International Affairs and Development, Geneva
  • Ban Ki-moon,8th Secretary General of the United Nations
  • Annie Lennox OBE,Singer, Songwriter, Activist & Founder of The Circle
  • Lord Mark Malloch Brown,President, Open Society Foundations
  • Andrew Mitchell MP,Former Secretary of State for International Development
  • Festus G. Mogae,President of the Republic of Botswana (1998-2008) and Champion for an AIDS- Free Generation
  • Prof Baron Peter Piot KCMG,Former Executive Director, UNAIDS. Director London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
  • Mike Podmore, Director, STOPAIDS
  • Peter Sands, Executive Director, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
  • Christine Stegling,Executive Director, Frontline AIDS
  • Baroness Sugg,Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Population, Development and Reproductive and former DFID/FCDO Minister
  • Charlize Theron, Founder of Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project
  • Gareth Thomas CBE, Former Welsh Rugby Captain
  • Princess Mabel van Oranje,Initiator & Board Chair of Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage, Co-Founder & Board Chair of VOW for Girls – Vow to End Child Marriage

Christine Stegling, Executive Director of Frontline AIDS says: “Over four decades, communities, NGOs and health systems across the globe have worked together to end AIDS. G7 leaders already have access to a priceless resource in the fight against future pandemics and it’s time for them to recognise this strength. Now is not the moment to be losing focus on one health crisis on account of another.”

Anne Aslett, Chief Executive Officer of Elton John AIDS Foundation says: ‘Over 38 million people are currently living with HIV globally, 12 million of whom are not on HIV treatment and so highly vulnerable to COVID. Failure to protect this population could see COVID deaths spiral and will do nothing to stem the rise of new HIV cases we are now seeing for the first time in years as a consequence of coronavirus. These two pandemics cannot be seen separately otherwise the fight against AIDS and COVID will suffer.  G7 leaders must draw on the expertise from 40 years of fighting AIDS to address COVID-19 and future health emergencies.”

Lord Fowler, who stepped down as Lord Speaker at the end of April and is now an ambassador for UNAIDS, says: “The UK has a decades long record in supporting global coordinated action to end HIV and AIDS. It is vital now that UK and its G7 partners rise to this new moment of crisis. You can’t beat one pandemic by letting another one rise. You have to take on both. The HIV response is also a vital support structure for the fight against Covid-19. Now is time to step up, not step back.”


HIV prevention