Published 01/12/17   4:46 pm

Is a tax on banks the answer to ending AIDS by 2030?

Globally, every year, there is a $7bn funding hole in the HIV response. We need to take action now to meet the target of ending AIDS by 2030. If we wait, all of the hard work of the last thirty years could be undone.

Closer to home, we’ve seen HIV/AIDS consistently fall down the list of the UK Government’s priorities, even whilst 3,300 people around the world die every single day from AIDS-related causes. In today’s Huffington Post, StopAIDS Director Mike Podmore urges the new Secretary of State to take HIV seriously: In 2015, the UK’s strategy for tackling the global HIV & AIDS epidemic expired. There are currently no plans to renew it. The Department for International Development (DFID) has failed to send any senior political representatives to the International AIDS Conference for four years. In January, the International Development Committee launched an inquiry into DFID’s work on HIV & AIDS – they concluded that its political and programmatic commitment is insufficient.

That’s why today, on the 30th World AIDS Day, although it is important to reflect on the progress made in the fight against HIV/AIDS, clearly more work needs to be done. We need to be discussing viable solutions available to combat this devastating epidemic and the big ideas that could win this fight.

“The opportunity to make AIDS history is within our reach but we risk undoing all of our hard work. We need to see renewed serious programmatic, financial & political commitment from the UK Government and not let HIV fall off the agenda,” says James Cole from Youth Stop AIDS, It Ain’t Over campaign.

One innovative solution governments across the globe could be implementing is a Financial Transactions Tax (FTT) also known as the Robin Hood Tax, a tiny tax on the financial sector that could generate billions. This is a solution that is supported by health organisations across the globe.  

“More than ever, innovative sources of finance – like a ‘Robin Hood Tax’ – are needed and would be a game-changer in the HIV response… it is a key tool in the fight to end AIDS by 2030” says James.  

And it’s possible! An important report by an alliance of European organisations including Coalition Plus, Global Fund Advocates Network and Action Against AIDS Germany, explains how the EU FTT (a European project to implement a bilateral FTT across 10 European countries, spearheaded by Germany, France, Italy and Spain) could play a leading role in the response to HIV/AIDS.

So, an FTT is a serious solution that would plug the spending gap, rather than continue to let it expand year on year. And with the number of young people killed by HIV/AIDS-related causes having tripled since 2000, more must be done urgently! The link between innovative sources of finance and bringing an end to this epidemic has never been more vital.

Since the report was released, exactly one year ago, When the European FTT agreement was due to be finalised, failure to agree has meant €22 billion (£19 billion) has not been collected!  A proportion of which could have been going towards global public goods, notably, the fight to end HIV and AIDS.  Just 30% of that revenue is all that is needed to bridge the funding gap and stop HIV/AIDS by 2030.

This inaction has exacted an inexcusable human toll, it is simply not good enough! Governments need to take the initiative. Implement a Financial Transactions Tax now to bring AIDS to an end by 2030.

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