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UNAIDS (the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) is the lead multilateral organization coordinating the global response to HIV/AIDS. Its mandate is to prevent the transmission of the virus, provide treatment and care for people living with the disease, reduce the vulnerability of individuals and communities to the virus, and lower the disease's worldwide impact.

UNAIDS is a network of eleven United Nations organizations and a secretariat contributing their efforts and resources to the AIDS response. The organizations, or cosponsors, are:

UNAIDS works through these organizations in HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support at the country level, promotes global advocacy and guides technical support.

Canada is an active member of UNAIDS through the Programme Coordinating Board. Involvement on this board allows Canada to influence the policy development of the organization while contributing to the global dialogue on HIV/AIDS.

Canada has been a strong supporter of UNAIDS since its establishment in 1996.

Thematic Focus

The mandate of UNAIDS aligns closely with two of Canada's priority themes for international development: securing the future of children and youth and stimulating sustainable economic growth.

Canada's support to UNAIDS is part of the global effort toward achieving Millennium Development Goal 6: combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. Canada's support to UNAIDS helps to maximize the reach of investments while helping shape the development and implementation of global HIV-related policies and practices that are aligned with Canadian priorities.

Children and youth

UNAIDS' focus on the need to give increased attention to children and youth in the fight against HIV/AIDS makes it a key multilateral partner for Canada. Young people aged 15 to 24 represent an estimated 45 percent of new HIV infections worldwide, with most in sub-Saharan Africa. Adolescent girls are especially vulnerable to HIV/AIDS.

Economic growth

HIV/AIDS slows economic growth by reducing the workforce, and causes financial strain on affected households and communities. Preventing the further spread of HIV/AIDS and providing care and treatment for affected individuals will enable families and communities to participate in, and benefit from, economic growth.

Strategy for Working with UNAIDS

Canada's international development work with UNAIDS focuses on three strategic objectives:

  1. Enhancing the capacity of UNAIDS to better harmonize and coordinate the HIV/AIDS response at the country level. This includes:
    • Harmonizing monitoring and evaluation systems at the country level
    • Increasing collaboration with cosponsors, donors, civil society, governments, implementing partners, and other important players
  2. Supporting the efforts of UNAIDS to respond to the gender dimensions of the epidemic
  3. Strengthening institutional effectiveness in the context of United Nations reform to improve the ability of UNAIDS to deliver on results


In 2011, with the support of Canada and other donors, UNAIDS

  • Provided technical support to countries resulting in an estimated 1.35 million additional people having access to treatment in low- and middle-income countries
  • Helped increase the number of countries with comprehensive HIV policies and plans to 158
  • Helped 103 countries provide HIV prevention services
  • Launched and supported the Global Plan to eliminate new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keep their mothers alive (PDF, 785 KB, 48 pages)
  • Supported an increase in domestic expenditures on HIV in Africa, resulting in a 97 percent increase
  • Provided support to 87 countries to develop and/or implement HIV-related programs addressing gender based violence
  • Helped 31 countries address discrimination of most-at-risk populations in their national AIDS plans
  • Supported 89 countries and 7 regions to establish and enforce laws upholding HIV-related rights and increasing access to justice services

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