activists and professionals from many different countries can meet to exchange information and make plans for collaboration. A man from the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago (left) with a woman from Denmark meet during a panel on AIDS organizing at the International AIDS Conference in Montreal, Canada, in 1989.
UNAIDS, based in Geneva, Switzerland, is a cosponsored relationship among the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the WHO, and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank). In 1993, these UN agencies began to consider some sort of collaboration after realizing that there was potential for overlap, mixed mandates, inconsistent messages, and suboptimal use of resources among all the UN organs as they responded to the epidemic. They recognized the need for a more extensive global network of governmental and nongovernmental organizations to respond to the rapidly increasing incidence in some areas, the denial of some countries that HIV exists and is being transmitted within their borders, and human rights violations. In July 1995, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), a UN organ that takes responsibility for oversight of UN relationships with consulting NGOs, approved a governance structure and later signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding with the six cosponsoring organizations. UNAIDS has staked out four primary roles on various national and global levels, including policy development and research, technical support, advocacy, and coordination. In its effort to promote team responses in strategies to mitigate various factors influencing the epidemic, UNAIDS works with national governments, intergovernmental organizations, the private sector, and academic and research centers, as well as with groups of people living with HIV/AIDS.