At a moment when increased political, financial and programmatic prioritisation is needed to end AIDS once and for all, there are worrying signs of HIV being deprioritised globally, including in the UK. In 2016, for the second consecutive year, international donor funding for HIV fell, by this time by 7%, representing a cut of $500m dollars. While HIV was an Millennium Development Goal in and of itself, today HIV sits amongst 13 other targets within the Sustainable Development Goal on ensuring healthy lives.
Why is HIV getting deprioritised?
Deprioritisation is potentially a consequence of competing priorities – for example the world faces an unprecedent scale of humanitarian crises. It may also be a result of the incorrect perception that HIV and AIDS is over or no longer a problem. As technology and treatment options have developed, and people living with HIV have been able to live long and healthy lives, the sense of urgency that accompanied the first years of the epidemic has disappeared.
In response to the UK’s deprioritisation of HIV, Youth Stop AIDS, supported by STOPAIDS and Restless Development, has launched a campaign, It Ain’t Over. The campaign is calling on the UK government to financially, politically and programmatically reprioritise HIV. Campaigners are highlighting that although we have the tools and the knowledge to defeat AIDS we have taken our eye off the ball. Stakeholders ranging from government to the NGO sector itself no longer pay attention to HIV like they used to, and our collective complacency threatens to undo the progress made in the epidemic to date.
The campaign urges young people to write to their MPs and ask them to take action in parliament. To date, nearly 200 MPs have been lobbied by Youth Stop AIDS campaigners and around 40 MPs have taken action in parliament, writing to the Secretary of State for International Development, tabling parliamentary questions and raising the issue in debates. In January 2017, the International Development Committee launched an inquiry into DFID’s work into HIV and AIDS, echoing many of Youth Stop AIDS recommendations in their final letter to DFID.
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