The Role of the Philanthropic Sector

Ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 — the target set by the Sustainable Development Goals — is within reach. But doing so requires a sense of urgency and identifying the resources needed to meet key milestones within a short window of opportunity.

Private philanthropy dollars comprise only 2% of global resources for HIV and AIDS; however, it is an absolutely essential component. Resources for advocacy, arguably the biggest lever to help mobilize the fight against HIV and AIDS, is largely tied to unrestricted funding. Private philanthropy is often the only source of this type of support.

Philanthropic resources have grown dramatically, becoming an integral component to the global HIV and AIDS response. What began with only five private foundation grants and $216,000 in 1983 has increased, most recently, to $663 million in 2015.

Funders whose work focuses specifically on HIV/AIDS is a small, but critical group. This set of just 25 organizations (5% of all funders in 2015) provides critical leadership in areas including support for key populations, community-led funding mechanisms, and driving awareness of, and advocacy for, funding HIV/AIDS.

To reach our objective, we must also look more broadly than the list of funding organizations that typically work in this arena; we must engage those that address closely inter-related issues including health equity, racism, homophobia, poverty, and reproductive health and justice. These not only intersect with, but often fuel the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The work is not yet finished. Ending the epidemic as a global health threat will require the philanthropic sector to join the public sector to ensure robust, coordinated funding and reach the populations most at risk.