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close this bookFacts about UNAIDS: an overview (UNAIDS, 1997, 11 p.)
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View the documentWhy UNAIDS was created

Why UNAIDS was created

UNAIDS has taken over the baton from WHO s Global Programme on AIDS, which led the fight against AIDS starting in 1986.

Alongside WHO, other UN agencies and bodies have been active against the epidemic, each in its own sphere of action. There are two key reasons for the six agencies to join forces in UNAIDS:

· The need for a broader-based, expanded response to the epidemic in sectors ranging from health to economic development. AIDS remains an important health issue, and health systems are central to the response as millions of HIV-infected people fall ill and need care and support. But many of the epidemic s causes and consequences lie outside the health sector. The spread of the virus is fuelled by poverty, migration, the inferior status of women and many other societal factors that make people vulnerable to HIV, while the impact of the epidemic impoverishes families, fields and factories and threatens the gains and very process of development. With UNAIDS, countries tackling this array of challenges can tap more easily into the expertise, networks and resources of six UN organizations with mandates ranging from health to economic development, and from education to family planning.

· The need to provide leadership and better-coordinated UN system support to countries. Much has been learned and accomplished in responding to the epidemic, thanks to the courageous efforts of many individuals and groups around the world and the contributions of the international development community. But with over 8500 people a day becoming infected 90% of them in developing countries we clearly need more innovation and collaboration and an even greater sense of urgency. UNAIDS was created to provide strong leadership and coherent, well-coordinated UN support to countries.

The need for a joint UN programme on AIDS was confirmed by a resolution of WHO s World Health Assembly in 1993 and later endorsed by the governing bodies of the other prospective cosponsors and by the Economic and Social Council of the UN. By early 1996, the six cosponsoring organizations had signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together against AIDS and support UNAIDS.

UNAIDS is thus United Nations reform in action. It takes a unique, collaborative approach to a fundamental health and development challenge. Through UNAIDS, countries can draw on the broad expertise of the cosponsors and other UN organizations in areas such as programme development and management, women and child health, education, legal networking, demand reduction for drug use, community care initiatives, rural development and resource mobilization. The goal is an expanded response to HIV/AIDS.