As STOPAIDS members and campaigners, we need to influence political parties and candidates in the lead up to the General Election. The next few weeks will be critical. We need strong commitments from the next government to help end AIDS globally by 2030.
Right now you’ll be hearing from lots of Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) – people who are standing in the election and who are all desperate for your vote! PPCs are eager to hear the views of local people – so this is a prime opportunity to let them know the type of country you want to live in.
What are the issues?
Progress in the global HIV response is too slow. There are huge funding gaps and we are off track to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target of ending AIDS globally.
With expensive and escalating drug prices, all political parties need to take bold steps to put people’s health above corporate wealth, ensuring that medicines are accessible and affordable for all.
To achieve the SDGs, the next government must commit to meet the 0.7% Gross National Income (GNI) target for overseas development aid and target this spending to ensure we leave no one behind.
Download our Election Pack for info and ideas on how you can take action, including:
In less than 3 minutes, you can contact your candidates and help ensure the next government champions ending AIDS by 2030.
Find out who your candidates are and get their contact details by entering your postcode here.
Use (or adapt) this email for each candidate you want to contact. Be sure to include your name and your address at the end of the email.
When you get a response, please fill in this form.
Attend or set up a hustings
Hustings are local events in which your election candidates answer questions from the local community. They are open for everyone to attend. Have a search online or contact your political candidates to see when your local one is.
Here are some questions to ask at hustings:
Question 1 - What measures will your party take to get HIV spending back on track to meet Global Goal target of ending AIDS by 2030?
Even at such a critical time, the UK’s overall funding for the global HIV response is currently at its lowest level for a decade. The next government must take urgent measures to increase the UK’s financial commitment for the global HIV response to fill significant funding gaps.
To be on course to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030, UNAIDS estimates that US$26.2 billion will be required for the global HIV response in 2020 alone, but the gap between need and available resources is widening. Funding for the global HIV response has been flat-lining for years and the UK’s contributions have reached their lowest levels for a decade. Many blame ‘AIDS fatigue’, competition between other important issues and premature and misleading claims of ‘the end of AIDS’.
More than 70% of the world’s poorest people live in middle-income countries and by 2020 these countries will be home to 70% of all people living with HIV. Despite these statistics, reaching middle-income country status usually signals a transition away from donor assistance. If a country’s transition process happens when key stakeholders are not ready, willing, committed and able to take over development programmes, this can lead to gaps in critical services and often the reversal of hard-won gains in the HIV response.
The next government should ensure that the UK steps up its ambition and takes a leading role in reversing these declines by increasing its bilateral HIV spending and continuing to support key populations and communities who must be at the centre of the response.
Question 2 - How will your party ensure that medicines developed with public funding are affordable for the NHS and in developing countries?
Escalating drug prices for new medicines, including cancer and many HIV co-infections (such as Hep-C), have become unsustainable for an underfunded NHS and put these treatments completely beyond the reach of patients in developing countries. In 2016, the UK NHS spent more than one billion pounds on medicines that had been researched and developed with taxpayer money. Globally, some estimate that the public pays for up to two-thirds of upfront drug R&D costs. These figures show that the risks of research are socialised but the rewards are privatised.
The next government should ensure that there are safeguards in place to ensure that medicines that have benefitted from taxpayer funding are accessible or affordable to patients that need them.
Question 3 - Channel 4 Dispatches revealed that a US-UK trade agreement could lead to the UK spending an extra £500 million per week on medicines. How will you ensure that drug prices are not affected by any trade agreement with the US?
A US-UK trade deal would threaten UK drug prices because trade deals cover intellectual property rights and market access. In recent trade deals that the US has done with Korea, Canada and Mexico they have secured stronger intellectual property rights to extend monopolies and delay the entry of cheaper generics. Measures to strengthen intellectual property rights have been advised against at the highest level (the UN High Level Panel on Access to Medicines). US pharma lobby, PhRMA has argued that mechanisms to control drug prices are unfair designed to “artificially depress the market value of US innovative medicines”. NICE, which assesses the cost-effectiveness of medicines for the NHS, along with the voluntary government-industry agreement to cap NHS drug spending, and even the pooled procurement and negotiating power wielded by the NHS, could all be threatened by a US trade deal. The US negotiating objectives state this clearly: ‘Seek standards to ensure that government regulatory reimbursement regimes are transparent, provide procedural fairness, are nondiscriminatory, and provide full market access for U.S. products”
The next government should oppose provisions in free trade agreements that strengthen intellectual property rights beyond what is required in the WTO Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement, as these have an adverse impact on access to medicines, and any provisions that would affect the ability of the NHS to negotiate prices.
You can see the full STOPAIDS recommendations for political party manifestos here.
There’s only a small window of opportunity to ensure the next government champions ending AIDS by 2030.