Press release

UNAIDS and IOM sign agreement to improve access to HIV services for migrants

Geneva, 21 January 2011—The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) today signed a new cooperation agreement to overcome HIV-related challenges faced by many migrants.

The agreement seeks to integrate human rights and the needs of migrants and mobile populations into national and regional HIV responses and ensure universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. 

“Healthy migrants contribute significantly to achieving healthy economies,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “States and other actors in the AIDS response have a fundamental duty to ensure the safety and well-being of migrants—this must include access to HIV services.”

Under the new agreement, IOM and UNAIDS will also focus on enhancing social protection for migrants affected by HIV; stopping violence against migrant women and girls and removing punitive laws, policies, practices, stigma and discrimination related to HIV and population mobility that block effective responses to AIDS.

"Government and civil society are becoming increasingly concerned about the potential vulnerability of migrants to HIV infection. By strengthening our partnership and pooling our respective expertise on HIV and migrants, our two organizations can address this critical issue more effectively," said IOM Director General William Lacy Swing.

In addition UNAIDS and IOM will work on strengthening technical support to help governments, regional institutions and civil society reduce vulnerability to HIV among mobile and migrant populations. The two organizations will also continue cooperation on research to deepen the understanding of HIV and population mobility.

IOM and UNAIDS have a long-standing partnership, formalized in a 1999 Cooperation Framework which was updated in 2002. This is now replaced by today’s new agreement. IOM’s HIV and population mobility programme not only complements the work of UNAIDS globally, but the Organization is also part of the UN Joint Team on HIV/AIDS at the country level.  

UNAIDS is committed to improving access to HIV services for migrants and has included mobility in its Strategy 2011-2015 which states that HIV responses must create space to involve marginalized and disempowered people, such as migrants.

HIV projects are a significant part of IOM’s work, comprising the second largest area of migrant health projects implemented after health assessments. They are part of IOM’s broader efforts to ensure migrant access to health services regardless of migration status, throughout the migration process.

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