A Stocktake Review of DFID’s Work on HIV and AIDS

Today STOPAIDS is releasing a new policy report, A Stocktake Review of DFID’s Work on HIV and AIDS.

You might remember that over the past year the It Ain’t Over campaign and the International Development Committee have both called on DFID to carry out a similar review. Campaigners and parliamentarians felt that in the absence of an HIV strategy, a stocktake review would facilitate DFID to articulate its priorities within the global HIV response and ensure its work is sufficient to deliver and coherent with those priorities.  A stocktake review could then be used to create a roadmap for the UK government to increase financial, programmatic and political commitment to the Global HIV Response as we work towards the SDG target of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

Despite strong support for a stocktake review from civil society and parliament, DFID indicated they would not carry out a stocktake review.

Reaching the SDG target will require all stakeholders to work together more collaboratively and effectively, and so over the summer STOPAIDS has carried out a civil society review of DFID’s work on HIV and AIDS. Using Statistics for International Development, Dev Tracker and DFID’s public communications we assessed DFID’s current financial, programmatic and political commitment to the HIV response. Today we are publishing our findings in ‘A Stocktake Review of DFID’s Work on HIV and AIDS’.

Our Findings

Financial Commitment

DFID’s overall funding for HIV is falling. Despite the UK’s substantial contribution to the Global Fund, massive cuts to DFID’s country office programmes focused on HIV have led to a decrease in funding from £416m in 2012 to £324 in 2015. At a time when UNAIDS predict that stakeholders need to increase financial resources for the global HIV response by a third, DFID’s funding has decreased by 22%.

Funding for civil society has been particularly hard hit, declining from £30m in 2011 to just £8m in 2015. Civil society is playing a critical role in reaching the most marginalised groups with HIV services and in holding national governments to account. STOPAIDS is recommending that DFID increase funding for civil society by making an increased pledge to the Robert Carr Network Fund, when DFID’s current commitment runs out in 2018.

Programmatic Commitment

DFID’s last HIV strategy expired in 2015. STOPAIDS combed through responses to parliamentary questions, letters from DFID Ministers, and DFID’s speech at the HLM on Ending AIDS in 2016 to piece together a ‘mock strategy’ for DFID.

But most stakeholders will not be so diligent as to piece together DFID’s priorities. STOPAIDS is recommending that DFID formalise and make public their approach to HIV.  

We also looked at how DFID demonstrates impact within the HIV response and found that DFID had no way to cumulatively measure impact. As DFID have shifted to integrating HIV into wider health and development programmes they have used an ‘HIV policy marker’ to identify programmes that ‘significantly affect HIV outcomes’. But when the marker is used, 50% of the project’s budget is automatically attributed as HIV spend, which might mean actual HIV spend is over or underestimated. There are no minimum requirements for the HIV policy marker’s use.  This means that projects might not monitor any HIV related outcomes or indicators and might not even mention HIV in any of the project documentation and could still be tagged with the HIV policy marker, at the discretion of the DFID programme manager. STOPAIDS is recommending that DFID introduce minimum requirements for using the HIV policy marker and allow programme managers to be more specific in attributing the project’s budget to HIV spend.

Political Commitment

Lastly, we assessed DFID’s political commitment to the global HIV response by looking at the inclusion of HIV in DFID strategies and at DFID’s attendance at HIV conferences. HIV is absent from some pretty significant DFID strategies – notably the Strategic Vision on Women and Girls and DFID’s Youth Agenda. But more recently, in the Bilateral Development Review we’ve seen more positive signs of DFID’s commitment to HIV. We’ve also heard promising indications from DFID Secretary of State Priti Patel that HIV will form a critical part of DFID’s strategy on women and girls going forward.

DFID’s attendance at international conferences has also been inconsistent. DFID missed both the 2014 and 2016 International AIDS Society Conferences but recently sent a high level civil servant to the International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science. We’re recommending that DFID Minister Alistair Burt attend the International AIDS Conference in 2018 and that he includes a young person within the official UK delegation.

How you can support

As our report launches we’re looking to all stakeholders to help us take forwards it’s recommendations. Support us by promoting the report on social media or by writing to your MP about it. To learn more about our It Ain’t Over Campaign and our work on HIV prioritisation, please email alysa@stopaids.org.uk.