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Despite economically challenging times, and urgent humanitarian crises, research has shown that the British people continue to think it is important to maintain spending on HIV programmes.

The understandable tendency right now would be to focus entirely on domestic concerns and deep-freeze our humanitarian impulses until a stronger economy permits us to think big again.

But if we do that, we may miss out on one of the greatest opportunities of our times – achieving an HIV-free generation – a world with significantly reduced new infections, no AIDS related deaths and where HIV positive people are healthy and realise their rights. With scientific advances and robust evidence of what works, that goal is no longer a distant dream but a realistic objective.

Our latest report, released today to coincide with World AIDS Day 2012, makes the case for the UK government, a world leader in fighting HIV, to develop a blueprint for achieving an HIV-free generation. It shows how the HIV response is one of the most successful investment stories in development, and how the UK has already played a key role in getting some eight million people living with HIV on life-saving antiretroviral therapy.

So what are we asking for?  Well, the UK has already committed to increasing its overseas development assistance to 0.7% of its Gross National Income of which 7.1% already goes to fighting HIV. The International HIV/AIDS Alliance is simply calling on the UK to maintain that proportion as its contribution to that goal.

This is the moral thing to do, but it also makes economic sense. The most knowledgeable minds on HIV have determined that if we increase HIV investments over the next three years, we will achieve universal access to HIV services by 2015, at which point infections, AIDS-related deaths and costs will all start to fall.

The role of UK leadership in supporting an evidence-informed response to HIV — and backing it up with sufficient resources — is absolutely critical to this global mission.

With the UK hosting the G8 summit in 2013 and the Prime Minister co-chairing the UN High Level Panel on the post-2015 development agenda, there will never be a better chance than next year to exert global leadership that would save millions of lives.

There are few global development issues where the UK is a global leader and which the public strongly supports. HIV is one of those areas.

You can read more in our report, Don’t Stop Now! Calling for a UK blueprint to achieve an HIV-free generation, which calls on the UK government to:

* Publish a detailed blueprint by June 2013, and specifically for DFID to conduct a comprehensive review of its global HIV work.
* Simply maintain its HIV investment at the current level of 7.1% of 0.7% GNI.
* Ensure that the right level of funding is directed at the right programmes for the right populations at the right scale, particularly for marginalised populations like men who have sex with men, sex workers, people who inject drugs and transgender people.

Dr. Alvaro Bermejo is Executive Director of the International HIV/AIDS Alliance.

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