The mission of UNAIDS is to lead, strengthen and support an expanded response to HIV and AIDS that includes preventing transmission of HIV, providing care and support to those already living with the virus, reducing the vulnerability of individuals and communities to HIV and alleviating the impact of the epidemic. UNAIDS seeks to prevent the HIV/AIDS epidemic from becoming a severe pandemic.
UNAIDS has five goals:
- Leadership and advocacy for effective action on the epidemic;
- Strategic information and technical support to guide efforts against AIDS worldwide ;
- Tracking, monitoring and evaluation of the epidemic and of responses to it ;
- Civil society engagement and the development of strategic partnerships;
- Mobilization of resources to support an effective response.
UNAIDS is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, where it shares some site facilities with the World Health Organization. It is a member of the United Nations Development Group. Its first executive director was Peter Piot; Michel Sidibé currently leads UNAIDS.
UNAIDS cosponsors 
- The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
- United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
- World Food Programme (WFP)
- United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
- United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
- United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
- International Labour Organization (ILO)
- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- World Bank
- UN Women
The Cosponsors and the UNAIDS Secretariat comprise the Committee of Cosponsoring Organizations, which meets annually.
The aim of UNAIDS is to help mount and support an expanded response to HIV/AIDS, one that engages the efforts of many sectors and partners from government and civil society.
Established in 1994 by a resolution of the UN Economic and Social Council and launched in January 1996, UNAIDS is guided by a Programme Coordinating Board with representatives of 22 governments from all geographic regions, the UNAIDS Cosponsors, and five representatives of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), including associations of people living with HIV/AIDS.
Peter Piot was the first executive director of UNAIDS. He served from its inception in 1995 until 2008, when he departed to lead the Institute for Global Health at Imperial College London. On 1 January 2009, Michel Sidibé became the new executive director of UNAIDS.
UNAIDS has eight global Goodwill Ambassadors who help strengthen awareness of the organisation's work. They are: Myung-Bo Hong, Michael Ballack, Toumani Diabaté, Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, Princess Stephanie of Monaco, Annie Lennox, Naomi Watts, and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.
The United Nations Declaration Commitment on HIV/AIDS provides the guiding framework for UNAIDS action. Promoting partnerships among various stakeholders is reflected within the leadership section of the Declaration of Commitment. In particular, it calls for complementation of government efforts by the full and active participation of civil society, the business community and the private sector through:
- Establishing and strengthening mechanisms that involve civil society including faith-based organizations (FBOs), the private sector, and people living with HIV/AIDS at all levels
- Encouraging and supporting local and national organizations to expand and strengthen regional partnerships, coalitions and networks
- Full participation of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA), those in vulnerable groups and people mostly at risk, particularly young people
- Addressing issue of stigma and discrimination.
UNAIDS works to promote partnerships among and between this diverse and broad range of non-state entities. This calls for increases in both the number of new actors, as well as in innovative ways of working, to facilitate increased capacity of non-state entities to respond effectively to the epidemic at all levels.
With the momentum generated by the UN Special Session on HIV/AIDS, the main challenges are to:
- Sustain and deepen involvement of those contributing and critical to the response such as PLWHA organizations
- Move beyond the organizations already involved and reach out to optimally engage a broad range of sectors/actors.
UNAIDS has collaborated with the Roman Catholic Church, especially Caritas Internationalis, in the fight against AIDS, something which materialized in a December 2005 message by Pope Benedict XVI. However, it indicated in a 2009 communiqué that it did not agree that condoms were unhelpful in AIDS prevention.
From policy to action 
In engaging non-state entities in an expanded response to the epidemic, the UNAIDS Secretariat:
- Fosters and supports global, regional and country level partnerships which include linkages between and among civil society, private sector, philanthropy, media, and with particular attention to organizations of people living with HIV/AIDS
- Supports governments and UN agencies in developing partnerships with non-state entities. This includes support for approaches intended to increase participation, improve connectedness of efforts and strengthen the various participants' capacity for action.
As the main advocate for global action on HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS leads, strengthens and supports an expanded response aimed at preventing the transmission of HIV, providing care and support, reducing the vulnerability of individuals and communities to HIV/AIDS, and alleviating the impact of the epidemic. To fulfil this mandate, UNAIDS is supported by voluntary contributions from governments, foundations, corporations, private groups (for example, students, universities, sporting clubs, etc.) and individuals.
In 2003, more than US$118.5 million was received from 30 governments, philanthropic organizations, individuals from around the world and others. The largest donors were the Netherlands followed by Norway, the United States, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Japan. In 2004, 35 governments contributed to UNAIDS.
See also 
- UNAIDS. "Biography of former UNAIDS Executive Director Dr Peter Piot". Retrieved 11 April 2013.
- UNAIDS. "Biography, Mr. Michel Sidibe". Retrieved 11 April 2013.
- UNAIDS. "Goodwill Ambassadors and Representatives". Retrieved 11 April 2013.
- Partnerships in civil society
- La Croix article