On 13th July, Members of Parliament voted not to reverse the cuts to the UK overseas aid budget from 0.7% of Gross National Income to 0.5%. We are incredibly saddened and disappointed by this result which will have a significant impact on the lives of the poorest and most marginalised communities around the world. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has already put the progress made in the global HIV response at risk of being undone and had a significant impact on young people living with HIV. Even before winning the vote to maintain the cut at 0.5% the UK Government had announced a more than 80% cut to UNAIDS along with slashing the budgets of numerous other programmes that support people living with HIV globally. 

These cuts will reduce access to services, medication, prevention and testing. They will stop people from being able to get the support and care that they need which will lead to an increase in HIV contraction rates and AIDS-related deaths. With 1.7 million people still contracting HIV in 2019 and AIDS-related deaths remaining a leading cause of death among young people globally – reducing funding, and therefore services and support, will have a devastating impact. At a time when the UK Government should be stepping up for global health, it is stepping back. 

At Youth Stop AIDS we will continue to campaign for the UK Government to reinstate the budget and support other organisations doing the same. We know that youth movements and people power can make real change and the outcome of this vote is not an exception. Please keep up to date with our Step Up for HIV campaign [link] and get in touch if you would like to get more involved. 

Benjamin Feist, Campaigner and Incoming National Campaigns Coordinator on the Youth Stop AIDS Steering Committee:

“Only 52% of children around the world living with HIV have access to life-saving anti-retroviral medicines, with half of those children without access dying before their 2nd birthday. The UK Government is turning its back on these children.

Our ambition is to end AIDS worldwide by 2030. An ambition the UK has committed to. The Government’s cut to UKAid is indefensible, and the new two-test aid lock means that over the past two decades we would have only contributed 0.7% GNI once, in 2001. As COVID-19 has shown us, ill-health anywhere threatens health everywhere. The UK cutting UNAIDS funding by 80%, particularly during another pandemic, will reverse progress made towards eradicating this virus, even within the UK.

As the incoming National Campaigns Officer for Youth Stop AIDS, I will work with our activists to do everything we can to challenge this decision and fight for the UK to step up for HIV once again.”

Learn more about Youth Stop AIDS’ Step Up for HIV Campaign here