HIV/AIDS

Oral Answers to Questions — International Development – in the House of Commons on 9th January 2019.

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Photo of Gillian Keegan Gillian Keegan Conservative, Chichester

What steps she is taking to help eradicate HIV/AIDS in developing countries.

Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt Minister of State (Department for International Development) (Jointly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

The United Kingdom is a world leader in efforts to end the AIDS epidemic, including through our major investment in the Global Fund, which provided 17.5 million people with treatment in 2017. We are working to expand access to treatment while reducing new infections, particularly among adolescent girls, women and other groups who face stigma and discrimination.

Photo of Gillian Keegan Gillian Keegan Conservative, Chichester

I thank the Minister for his answer. Along with medication, education has been transforming the spread of HIV in the UK, with infections falling by 28% since 2015. In sub-Saharan Africa, however, three in four new infections among 15 to 19-year-olds affect girls, and globally young women are twice as likely to be infected with HIV as men their age. What steps is my right hon. Friend taking to curb HIV infections within the most vulnerable and susceptible groups?

Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt Minister of State (Department for International Development) (Jointly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that question. Women and young girls are indeed a vulnerable group in relation to AIDS. Ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 is a priority for the UK, which I was able to re-emphasise when speaking at the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam earlier this year. Tackling AIDS is possible only if we target the most vulnerable populations, which we are doing by focusing on adolescents in the sexual and reproductive health programmes that we support.

Photo of Preet Kaur Gill Preet Kaur Gill Shadow Minister (International Development)

Analysis from the STOPAIDS coalition shows that, despite increased funding to multilaterals, overall DFID funding for HIV programmes has been falling, with bilateral funding for HIV programming falling from £221 million in 2009 to just £13 million in 2017. What steps is the Department taking to fill the funding gap created by that cut? If the Secretary of State is to shift spending to multilateral mechanisms, will the Minister confirm whether the Department will continue to invest in the Global Fund at the sixth replenishment conference in October 2019?

Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt Minister of State (Department for International Development) (Jointly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her questions. There is sometimes a difficulty with comparing spending when taking a snapshot, because programmes last for different lengths of time, but she is right to recognise our strong commitment to the Global Fund. We invested £1.2 billion in the current replenishment process, and we also provided extra assistance to the Robert Carr civil society Networks Fund during the course of this year. We will ensure that funding continues to go to programmes, and we do our best to track it when it goes into the wider programmes where the AIDS spending will actually happen. That remains a priority for us.

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield

The Uganda Virus Research Institute does a huge amount of work on HIV/AIDS and, of course, was jointly set up with the British Government back in 1988. What work is the institute doing? What can the Government do to strengthen both that work and the institute’s Ebola research?

Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt Minister of State (Department for International Development) (Jointly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for mentioning that programme. In fact, my hon. Friend the Minister for Africa visited the programme recently and was able to see its valuable work on both AIDS and Ebola. That sort of ministerial commitment demonstrates our support on the ground, which will continue and intensify.