Tory government cuts hundreds of millions in HIV funding despite promise to eradicate virus by 2030

Rishi Sunak

The UK government has cut funding to a major player in the fight against HIV, a decision that has prompted condemnation from MPs across the divide.

The UK government last year pledged £1.4 billion to The Global Fund, which fights HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria worldwide, but this year funding has been slashed to £1 billion.

The move has been criticised by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on HIV and AIDS, which said it could “jeopardise the UK’s own domestic efforts in ending HIV”.

“As we’ve clearly learned from COVID-19, pandemics don’t respect borders. If we can’t control HIV globally, it’ll jeopardise our domestic efforts,” a statement said.

The cross-party group said that while the pledge is “welcomed” in the fight against HIV and AIDS, the government’s decision to cut funding by £400 million was “disappointing”, especially as other G7 nations increased their funding.

Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle, who lives with HIV, told PinkNews that Tory ideology was risking progress and was a threat to the goal of ending new HIV transmissions this decade.

“While I welcome the funding pledge, which has come already two months late because of political turmoil in the Tory party, it is almost a 30 per cent cut in funding, when all other G7 nations have increased their contribution by almost 30 per cent.

“This cut will mean less research into curing HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria, it will make it harder to reach our ambitious target to eliminate new HIV transmissions by 2030 and it will slow vital research.

“All because the Tories have an ideological cap of 0.5 per cent GDP on aid, treat all Ukrainians living here getting support as aid, and have wrecked the economy creating a £60 billion black hole, one which could be covered by abolishing the upper limit on National Insurance and having corporation tax at the same as other G7 nations.”

Government cuts to foreign aid and funding for HIV and AIDS organisations including UNAIDS were criticised in 2021, with a report stating cuts were “setting the stage for a resurgence of the [HIV/AIDS] pandemic”.

The report, by STOPAIDS, Frontline AIDS, and the APPG on HIV and AIDS, states: “Even before COVID-19, the HIV response was already in a precarious position.

“The global HIV response is now teetering – caught in a perfect storm of waning political and public engagement, diminishing funds, and the global shock of COVID-19”.

The report added that while the UK has been an “historic leader” within global healthcare, a “renewed leadership from the UK government for the HIV response is desperately needed”.