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:
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. The agency promotes the GIPA principle (greater involvement of people living with HIV) formulated in 1994, and endorsed by the United Nations in 2001 and 2006.
The Cosponsors and the UNAIDS Secretariat comprise the Committee of Cosponsoring Organizations, which meets twice each year.
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. Jan Beagle is the Deputy Executive Director of Management and Governance, and Luiz Loures is the Deputy Executive Director of Programme. 
UNAIDS has eleven 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, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, David Luiz, Vera Brezhneva, Victoria Beckham and Pia Wurtzbach.
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:
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:
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 with the Pope's statement that condoms were unhelpful in AIDS prevention, instead calling them "essential".
In engaging non-state entities in an expanded response to the epidemic, the UNAIDS Secretariat:
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.