UK commits £6bn to global AIDS fight
The government has announced details of a seven-year strategy to tackle the spread of HIV and AIDS.
In a written statement to the House of Commons the International Development Secretary said the UK would be at the forefront of prevention, treatment and support provision.
“If we are to achieve universal access, and to halt and reverse the spread of AIDS, the evidence demonstrates that we require a long-term approach, across a range of health systems and services,” said Douglas Alexander.
“Our new commitment to spend six billion pounds on health systems and services up to 2015 demonstrates the UK’s determination to remain at the forefront of global efforts to achieve universal access.”
While the UK is committed to the new Achieving Universal Access strategy, there have been problems in some developing nations with regard to gay and lesbian HIV positive people.
For example, a Ugandan official today stated that no money would be spent on prevention among men who have sex with men, supposedly due to a lack of funds.
Many of the countries that will benefit from the £6bn pledged are home to state-sponsored homophobia.
Nigeria, for example, imprisons people for consensual same-sex relations.
Just weeks ago two women in Kaduna were sentenced to six months in prison and 20 lashes each for having a lesbian relationship.
Nigeria is to receive £30m to be spent on condoms.
“This funding will provide seven out of 10 condoms in Nigeria over the next six years,” according to the Secretary of State.
HIV infections among injecting drug users are driving the fastest growing epidemics in the world and some of the £6bn will try to tackle that problem.
There is also £200 million to support “social protection programmes” over the next three years.
Today’s announcement was welcomed by the Opposition.
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Shadow International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said:
“Tackling HIV/AIDS is a vital and urgent challenge. Today’s strategy paper is sensible and constructive.
“I particularly welcome the focus on prevention, and on the need to strengthen comprehensive health systems in poor countries.
“But the government need to be more self-critical about whether we are actually getting the results we expect, both on behalf of the people we are trying to help, and of British taxpayers.
“Instead of an independent review of the implementation of this strategy in three years time, we need detailed, yearly impact assessments to examine whether the strategy is on track.
“We also need specific interim country-level targets so that leaders can be held to account on their promise to deliver universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment by 2010.”