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The mandate of UNAIDS — the UN programme for HIV/AIDS — is wrong and harmful, and the programme should be closed down rapidly, says Roger England in the British Medical Journal.

England points out that HIV causes 3.7 per cent of mortality and kills fewer people than pneumonia or diabetes, yet receives 25 per cent of international healthcare aid and a big chunk of domestic expenditure.

He says this has resulted in wasting vast sums of funding on esoteric disciplines instead of beefing up public health capacity.

UNAIDS is calling for huge increases in its funding — from US$9 billion today to US$54 billion by 2015.

England says the programme is out of touch with reality, and its single-issue advocacy is harming health systems and diverting resources from other diseases.

But moves to reprioritise HIV/AIDS will be resisted, he says, because the global HIV industry has grown too big and out of control.

"We have created a monster with too many vested interests and reputations at stake, too many single issue NGOs, too many relatively well paid HIV staff in affected countries, and too many rock stars with AIDS support as a fashion accessory."

Link to full article in British Medical Journal