Government doubles funding to UN Aids programme

The government has pledged to double its funding to the United Nations programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) to £6 million for 2004, it has been announced today.

There are 60 million people infected with HIV/AIDS across the world – 20 million have already died leaving 14 million children without a parent and further 3 million sufferers will die this year.

The UK's bilateral expenditure on HIV/AIDS related programmes has risen from £38 million in 1997/98 to over £270 million in 2002/03.

A new document setting out how the Government will help to tackle the global challenge of HIV/AIDS has been launched today to mark World Aids Day.

Writing in the foreword of the 'UK's Call for Action on HIV/AIDS', Prime Minister Tony Blair said that it is "the duty of the entire world community to act".

"What's important about this 'Call for Action' is not the impact of HIV/AIDS it identifies or the steps Britain has already taken to tackle these problems. It is the scale of the challenge ahead," he said.

The paper is the first step in setting out how the British government will work to tackle the global challenge of HIV/AIDS in the future. It calls on the international community to "intensify efforts" to combat the disease.

Mr Blair said he was personally determined that the UK will continue to offer the leadership needed to "get the world to focus on what we must do together".

"I can promise that HIV/AIDS will be at the top of our international agenda as we work towards our Presidencies of the G8 and the European Union in 2005," he wrote.

The government said that it will work towards ensuring every country affected by HIV has one national strategy, one national AIDS commission, and one way to monitor and report progress in combating HIV/AIDS.

The government will also aim to: support the World Health Organisation's target of getting three million people on treatment by 2005; see that 25% fewer young people are infected with HIV/AIDS by 2005; and slow the progress of the epidemic by 2015.

International Development Secretary Hilary Benn said: "HIV/AIDS destroys families and threatens to break down the fabric of whole societies but I believe the challenges ahead can be met by strengthening international commitment to action on HIV/AIDS and by better co-ordination around a single national AIDS plan in affected countries. The increase in our funding for UNAIDS will help the organisation to promote this."


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