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HIV AIDS: still serious


#ItAin'tOver, Youth Stop AIDS, campaign, young people, AIDS, UK funding, Amsterdam meetingCalling on the UK government to recognise HIV as a youth issue.

AIDS is no longer a death sentence and new HIV infections are easily preventable. But, as the campaign slogan for the Youth Stop Aids campaign says, it ain’t over.

We have the tools: like condoms, safe needles and anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs), which when taken properly make it virtually impossible to pass the virus on.

We have the knowledge: like who is most at risk of infection and how to educate and empower people so they can make informed choices about their sexual health.

And we have a plan: the Global Goals – also known as the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs – commit every nation to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

But in the UK we have taken our eye off the ball.

The opportunity to make AIDS history is within our reach, but we risk undoing everyone’s hard work.

Governments and charities are not paying attention to HIV & AIDS like they used to.

And complacency is a killer. We need to step it up a gear, otherwise millions of young people will suffer.

AIDS is still one of the biggest killers of adolescents in the world – with 64,000 young people dying from AIDS-related deaths last year.

Young people are the only demographic in which HIV rates are still increasing; researchers have warned that HIV rates are climbing among over-50s in the UK and Europe.

In total, 1.8 million new people acquired HIV in 2016.

Donor government funding has fallen in the last two years and it is now at its lowest level since 2010.

We know what we have to do. But we need serious political will and increased funding from the UK government to finish the job – and make AIDS history.

In the last year, campaigers persuaded MPs to carry out an inquiry into the Department for International Development’s work on HIV & AIDS. They knew that the government could be doing more, so they wanted the Department for International Development (DFID) to carry out a stocktake review of its work on HIV & AIDS.

It didn’t happen.

So Youth Stop AIDS published their own review – and they want the government to follow its recommendations.

1 – Plug the funding gap:

A huge funding gap of USD7 billion dollars a year has been identified. Without these crucial funds, we look set to miss out on our target of ending AIDS by 2030.

The UK is the second largest donor country to the HIV & AIDS response, and contributes 5 per cent of the total funding for HIV-related programmes in low and middle income countries.

Last year pressure groups helped convince the government to make the fantastic increased commitment of GBP1.1 billion to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.

The government also committed to maintaining funding to UNAIDS at GBP15 million a year for the next 5 years.

But there is still a long way to go.

And if we’re going to make real progress, funding for the most marginalised groups, like young people, sex workers and men who have sex with men, is going to be key.

The Robert Carr Network Fund specialises in supporting these groups and is achieving amazing results across the world.

However, it is severely underfunded and is only able to support 50 per cent of the quality proposals it receives.

That is why we are calling on DFID to increase its contribution to the Robert Carr Network Fund when existing funding runs out in 2018.

2 – Prioritse Young People:

HIV is the second biggest killer of young people, but DFID isn’t doing enough to recognise it as a youth issue.

DFID’s Youth Agenda commits to putting young people at the heart of international development, but there is no mention of HIV & AIDS in the Agenda document.

It also commits to supporting young people to make positive transitions from adolescence to adulthood, a key moment to prevent young people from acquiring HIV, and to recognise young people as agents of social change and advocates to change the world.

We are calling on DFID to recognise HIV as a youth issue.

This includes supporting young people to design, deliver and monitor their own youth HIV programmes, as well as supporting young people to be effective HIV advocates in global spaces – like the upcoming International AIDS Conference 2018.

3 – Show political leadership:

The UK has traditionally been seen as a world leader in the HIV & AIDS response, but in recent years its political leadership seems to have dropped off.

DFID no longer has a strategy for how it intends to end AIDS – the last strategy ran out in 2015 and there are currently no plans to renew it.

Last year, campaigners saw some of their hard work pay off as DFID decided to include HIV & AIDS in the Bilateral Development Review, which set out DFID’s approach to development, and they are hoping for further mentions in future publications. But the government could be doing more to speak out on the world stage.

In July 2018, the International AIDS Conference will be held in Amsterdam. This crucial forum is held every two years, but UK politicians haven’t turned up for years.

When the UK fails to use its significant influence on the global stage, less progressive states often take the opportunity to push through policies and strategies that could actively reduce the impact UK aid can have on tackling HIV & AIDS.

For example through excluding key populations like men who have sex with men, sex workers, people who use drugs and transgender people.

Youth Stop AIDS are therefore urging the UK government to proudly and publicly demonstrate its commitment to ending AIDS by 2030 and to ensure that a Minister attends the International AIDS Conference next year, along with a Youth Delegate.

Help us.

Write and tell your MP how they can help end AIDS.

If you think you or someone else are at risk of HIV AIDS and want help or advice, click here.

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