Latin America

UNAIDS commends Mexico's ban on conversion therapy

12 June 2024

UNAIDS has applauded the decision by Mexico to ban the practice of so-called "conversion therapy".  

"The stigma and discrimination that so-called ‘conversion therapy’ perpetuates have damaged public health. Mexico's move to end this harmful practice will help secure public health. All countries should follow Mexico’s example," said Luisa Cabal, UNAIDS Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.  

Health and human rights experts have condemned so-called “conversion therapy” for causing severe psychological distress. In 2012, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) noted that such therapies had no medical justification and represented a severe threat to health and human rights. In 2015, the joint statement by UN agencies condemned “abuse in medical settings, including unethical and harmful so-called ‘therapies’ to change sexual orientation.” In 2016, the World Psychiatric Association found that "there is no sound scientific evidence that innate sexual orientation can be changed." In 2020, the Independent Forensic Expert Group (IFEG) declared that offering such therapy is a form of deception, false advertising, and fraud. In 2020, the report on conversion therapy by the UN Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity called for "a global ban on practices of 'conversion therapy'”.  So-called “conversion therapy” is false and harmful, and needs to be ended everywhere. 

UNAIDS experience has shown that stigma and shame drive people away from essential health services and support systems, including from HIV prevention, testing, treatment, and care. Protecting the human rights of every person, UNAIDS research shows, is essential for protecting public health, because it enables inclusive and equitable access to health services without discrimination.  

"The evidence is clear,” said Ms Cabal. “Stigmatizing practices harm public health. Ensuring inclusion, acceptance and respect for the human rights of everyone is vital to protect everyone’s health. Stigma kills, and solidarity saves lives.” 

UNAIDS Executive Director and Inequality Council urge G20 to back bold network on medicine production and address the social determinants of pandemics

06 June 2024

SALVADOR, BRAZIL, 6 June 2024—At the G20 preparatory meeting in Brazil, Executive Director of UNAIDS and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, Winnie Byanyima, today urged governments to support a new G20 Alliance, proposed by the Brazilian government, to enable life-saving medicines to be produced in every part of the world. Co-Chair of the Global Council on Inequality, AIDS, and Pandemics Sir Michael Marmot also called on G20 delegates to address the social determinants of pandemics, such as education and human rights, as a concrete part of the G20’s pandemic preparedness efforts.

The medicines initiative aims to create a global alliance of local and regional manufacturers of drugs, vaccines and other health technologies and unite a diversified network of local and regional producers to ensure an adequate supply of medicines and technologies for everyone, everywhere.

Ms Byanyima called on the G20 to ensure that the alliance takes a bold approach that strengthens efforts to fight dengue and other neglected diseases, improves global defences against future pandemics, and accelerates access to the latest technologies against HIV.

“Focusing together on neglected diseases and the major killers of vulnerable people is not only strategic, it can deliver during future pandemics,” said Ms Byanyima. “We can be thankful that, for all its devastation, COVID-19 responded to a vaccine, unlike HIV. There is no reason to believe the next pandemic will be like COVID-19.  We need to build capacity for vaccines and treatment.”

The responses to many diseases that impact vulnerable populations – from Ebola to Mpox to HIV – would benefit greatly from this initiative, Ms Byanyima told governments today.

“The alliance can supercharge the HIV response. It can supercharge the production pipeline for innovations,” said Ms Byanyima. “An alliance could also build capacity where it is not. The majority of people living with HIV, who get up every day and take that pill, live in Africa. But few of those drugs are actually made in African countries.”

“Brazil’s leadership and experience in this area has inspired this global effort. And we need the support of the whole G20 to make it a success.”

The agenda of the G20 meeting on health is helping to push global health policy towards tackling the systemic inequalities that drive ill-health.  UNAIDS is coordinating a Global Council on Inequality, AIDS and Pandemics that is gathering evidence on how inequalities deepen and prolong pandemics, including HIV and COVID-19. That evidence is being shared with policymakers at the G20 and other international forums.

On Monday, world-renowned expert Sir Michael Marmot gave a keynote address the G20 meeting on the potential of focusing concretely on the social determinants to strengthen pandemic preparedness, predict the severity of future pandemics, and  improve the efficacy of responses.

“Improving health leads to a better economy. And the way to improve health is not just to invest in healthcare, but in the social determinants of health,” Professor Marmot said. “For example, in Botswana, there is clear evidence that the longer young people remain in education, the lower the rates of HIV.”

Addressing social determinants, building manufacturing capacity, and enabling people everywhere to access the whole range of HIV prevention and treatment options, including the latest long-acting technologies, is vital for ensuring the end of AIDS as a public health threat. The G20 initiatives would play a key role in achieving that objective in a sustainable way, while also contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and supporting efforts to quickly respond to the next pandemic.


Notes for editors

Brazil's main proposal for the G20 Health Working Group is to establish the creation of an Alliance for Regional Production and Innovation. This initiative aims to establish a network that brings together key actors, including countries, academia, private sector, and international organizations, for research and development and production of vaccines, medicines, diagnostics, and strategic supplies to combat diseases with strong social determinants and that mainly affect vulnerable populations, such as dengue, malaria, tuberculosis, Chagas disease, and leprosy. For more information on the G20 Health Working Group, see the G20 website:


The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations—UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank—and works closely with global and national partners towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more at and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.


Renato de Paiva Guimarães
tel. +55 61 99304-2654

Guayaquil joins the worldwide group of cities committed to ending the HIV epidemic

15 March 2024

Mayor Aquiles Alvarez Henriques of Guayaquil, Ecuador's largest city and the nation's main port, signed the Paris and Sevilla Declarations on February 28, placing the city among the almost 500 municipalities around the world that are committed to fast-tracking action at local level to improve the quality of life of people living with and affected by HIV. Through this commitment, the city pledges to contribute to the country's goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

Guayaquil is the capital of the province of Guayas, Ecuador's most populated province and the most affected by HIV, with over a third of all new HIV infection notifications in the country, according to the Ministry of Public Health of Ecuador. It has a concentrated epidemic among key populations, with an HIV prevalence of 7.3% among gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM), for example. 

"A significant number of cases reported with HIV in 2023 live in Guayaquil", said Andrés Díaz, Technical Director of the city's Infectious Disease Prevention Unit of the Health and Hygiene Directorate. "We know that the best way to improve HIV prevention is through education and sensitization of citizens so that they can get tested." 

Guayaquil has made significant efforts to intensify HIV screening and has increased the detection of HIV-positive cases by 1.6%. Diagnosed people are immediately linked to the public health system to start first-line antiretroviral treatment, which is universally available to nationals and migrants in Ecuador. 

Nonetheless, the Health Department of the Guayaquil Municipality has developed a plan with key actions to be implemented as a result of the city’s commitment to the Fast-Track initiative. Some of the most strategic priorities incorporate the scale up of HIV services, including HIV prevention, early diagnosis, and timely treatment of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections; the sensitization of civil servants on issues of stigma, discrimination, and gender-based violence linked to HIV; and facilitate the engagement of communities, specially from key and vulnerable population, in the definition and implementation of HIV programmes at community level.

Representatives of community and civil society organizations such as Corporación Kimirina, the Ecuadorian Coalition of People Living with HIV, and the Silueta X LGBT+ Trans Association attended the event. These organizations play a crucial role in the city's efforts to respond to HIV. "Citizen involvement under the local authority's leadership, with emphasis on the most vulnerable and at-risk community groups, is vital to achieving the goal of ending AIDS by 2030,” emphasized the delegates of Corporacion Kimirina Maria Elena Acosta and Lily Marquez. Similarly, Joan Morales from the Ecuadorian Coalition of People Living with HIV stressed that "By signing the Paris and Sevilla Declarations, Guayaquil joins many other cities that have committed to provide accelerated and sustained health services that allow us to eradicate not only AIDS but also TB, Malaria, and other tropical diseases, with actions that contribute to reducing discrimination towards people living with HIV and other affected communities."

Created in 2014, the Paris Declaration on Fast-Track Cities Ending the HIV Epidemic is a political declaration with commitments and targets that include ending urban AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) epidemics, as well as eliminating viral hepatitis (HBV and HCV). It also articulates a mandate to place people at the center of the response. To define and facilitate that mandate, the Sevilla Declaration on the Centrality of Communities in Urban HIV Responses was created in 2022, outlining the 10 commitments that cities and municipalities are asked to make to increase the engagement of and promote leadership by affected communities in attaining the Fast-Track Cities initiative's goals, objectives, and targets.

"We congratulate the Mayor's Office of Guayaquil for its commitment to contribute to Ecuador’s efforts to reach the 2025 Global AIDS Strategy targets, reducing the number of new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths and eliminating stigma and discrimination in all its forms,” said Andrea Boccardi Vidarte, Director of the UNAIDS Office for the Andean Countries. "This commitment is also a recognition of the leadership of communities most affected by HIV and their support to the city's goals." 

Seeking justice for HIV-related discrimination in the workplace in Guatemala

18 December 2023

In the heart of the bustling Guatemala City, Juan used to face the daily grind of life with an unwavering spirit. He had been diagnosed with HIV several years ago and had learned to manage his health effectively. As a dedicated employee at a marketing firm, he poured creativity into every project he touched.

Life seemed to be on an upswing for him until an unexpected turn of events unfolded at the workplace. A colleague stumbled upon Juan's medical records and, in a breach of privacy, discovered his HIV status. Soon, whispers spread through the office, and Juan began to feel the cold stares and hushed conversations whenever he walked by. Ultimately, he was dismissed from his company for "restructuring reasons."

As the discrimination became more blatant, Juan decided it was time to take action. He sought advice from Líderes Profesionales, a network of lawyers specializing in discrimination cases for people living with HIV. With UNAIDS's support, this network is committed to fighting for justice and equality for marginalized communities.

Upon hearing Juan's story, the lawyers at Líderes Profesionales were appalled by the flagrant violation of privacy and the subsequent discrimination. They quickly assembled a legal team dedicated to ensuring justice for Juan. The lawyers explained the legal protections in place for individuals with HIV, emphasizing that workplace discrimination based on health status is a clear violation of the law.

Together with Juan, the legal team initiated a lawsuit against the firm. They filed a complaint citing violations of privacy, discrimination, and failure to provide a safe and inclusive work environment and asked for payment of benefits and compensation for unjustified dismissal.

Líderes Profesionales worked tirelessly to expose Juan's unjust treatment, seeking justice for him and advocating for broader change in workplace policies. They organized workshops to sensitize companies, urging them to implement comprehensive diversity and inclusion training and policy.

As of December 2023, the case is still ongoing. The legal team's goal is to seek compensation for Juan and foster an environment where such discrimination would not be tolerated in the future.

"Juan's experience and five other discrimination-related workplace cases this year inspire us to continue our advocacy work," says Julio Rodríguez, Director of Líderes Profesionales. "We redouble our efforts to support individuals facing discrimination, using each case as an opportunity to raise awareness and push for systemic change."

In Guatemala, 31,000 people are estimated to be living with HIV. HIV-related stigma and discrimination are still pervasive. According to the latest National Stigma Index (2017), 14% of people living with HIV reported losing their job or source of income due to their positive status for HIV, and 13% of people living with HIV reported being denied employment or opportunity to work because of HIV.

 "Having access to legal support really represented a turning point for Juan. Empowered by it, he is a more vocal advocate for HIV awareness and anti-discrimination efforts," says Marie Engel, UNAIDS Country Director for Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. "Through his journey, Juan contributes to a more just and inclusive society for all." 

Responding to gender-based violence through sorority and information

15 December 2023

In the quiet corner of a community center in Guatemala City, 29-year-old Emma - fictitious name - sits among other women she does not know. In the faces and gestures of each of them, you can see that they all carry the weight of violence and injustice on their shoulders.

The first subtle rays of sunlight gradually fill the room; calm and comfort invite Emma and the others to feel more relaxed in their hearts and souls. With tired eyes, small hands, and a heart scarred by violence, she looks around, absorbs the energy of the place, and takes a deep breath as she awaits the start of a therapy session and an informative talk about HIV.

As the therapy session began, Emma shyly and cautiously shared her experiences with Wendi Polanco, who, since 2019, has become a helping hand for many women battered by gender-based violence. Through Latiendo Juntas, the organization she leads in Guatemala, Wendi clearly proves that sisterhood works and is transformative.  

With support from UNAIDS, Latiendo Juntas coordinates a project to improve access to comprehensive health services, including sexually transmitted infections (STI) and HIV testing and care for women survivors of violence. They also contribute to their resilience and empowerment by raising awareness of human rights, including their sexual and reproductive rights, through group therapy and HIV information talks, which provide facts and a platform for open dialogue, fostering a non-judgmental environment.

"The room becomes a sanctuary where the pain of women like Emma and so many others is recognized," says Wendi. "The community center is a refuge for them, and a network of support among the women is woven with the sun's warmth. I feel relieved when I see how the weight on their shoulders begins to lessen."

Throughout these therapy sessions, Emma and other women discover comfort and empowerment. The therapeutic journeys offered at Latiendo Juntas become a catalyst for their resilience, liberation, and self-care.

The link between HIV and violence against women is a widespread problem, as gender-based violence increases women's vulnerability to HIV infection. Women who experience violence may have difficulty negotiating safe sexual practices, including the use of condoms, which increases their risk of contracting HIV. In addition, fear of violence may deter women from seeking HIV testing, treatment, and support, perpetuating the cycle of violence and silence and limiting their access to critical and essential healthcare resources.

Violence against women in Guatemala is endemic and can be described as a shadow pandemic. The country has one of the world's highest rates of femicide: the intentional murder of women because they are women.

"Addressing the intersection of HIV and violence against women requires comprehensive efforts that include education, empowerment, and dismantling gender-based power imbalances," says Irene Izquieta, UNAIDS Advisor on Rights and Gender for Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. 

UNAIDS welcomes new decision in Colombia allowing more affordable access to quality HIV medicines

04 October 2023

Colombia makes landmark decision to declare the HIV medicine dolutegravir of public interest, allowing the country to purchase or manufacture more affordable, generic versions of the live-saving HIV medicine

BOGOTÁ/GENEVA, 4 October 2023—UNAIDS applauds the government of Colombia for declaring the HIV medicine dolutegravir of public interest. This important breakthrough in public health measures will allow the government to issue a compulsory license, breaking the monopoly, and making it much more affordable for the Colombian government to purchase or manufacture. The new decision could mean that the price of the life-saving medicine is reduced by as much as 80%.

“When the power to produce health technologies is held by a few companies, the result all too often is that countries can’t afford the high prices and people who need newer products cannot access them,” said Luisa Cabal, UNAIDS Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. “We are confident that this decision will have an impact across the whole region and beyond, as many middle-income countries are struggling to access generic markets of key health products to prevent and treat HIV infection.” 

The World Health Organization recommends dolutegravir as the preferred first-line and second-line HIV treatment for all populations. As well as being effective, treatments incorporating dolutegravir-based regimens have demonstrated greater adherence, due to fewer side effects, while presenting enhanced, safety, and reduced likelihood of drug resistance.

“This decision represents a milestone for public health in Colombia. Since the Ministry of Health initiated the administrative procedures earlier this year, over 120 civil society organizations, other government agencies, academia and international organizations including UNAIDS supported this process,” said Andrea Boccardi Vidarte, UNAIDS Director for the Andean Countries. "Through our local, regional and global offices, UNAIDS will continue supporting the government on the implementation of this landmark decision.” 

With this decision, the Colombian government estimates that it will be able to put 28 people on dolutegravir for the same price that it is allocated today to treat just one person. The implementation of the measure will allow the country to access less expensive, but just as effective, generic versions. A huge increase in reach with quality medicines which will save lives.

Colombia had already issued national guidelines in 2021 to prioritize dolutegravir as the recommended first-line antiretroviral treatment, in line with WHO recommendations. However, the high price of dolutegravir has remained an obstacle to expanding access and making it widely available to people living with HIV in the country.

This ruling will save lives in Colombia and across the region. The country hosts the largest number of Venezuelan migrants in the world (2.9 million as of October 2022). Recent studies have shown a 0.9% HIV prevalence among this migrant population, almost double the 0.5% HIV prevalence among the country’s adult population. 

“This decision provides the government with the legal conditions to manufacture or purchase more affordable versions of this essential first-line antiretroviral treatment for all people living with HIV in Colombia, including Venezuelan migrants”, said Ms Cabal.

Compulsory licensing is a provision in the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement). It enables governments to supply its citizens with generic versions of patented treatments either through domestic production or imports, ensuring health products’ prices are affordable.

The 2001 WTO Declaration on the TRIPS agreement and public health reaffirmed the rights of member states to make use of all flexibilities in the TRIPS agreement to protect public health, including compulsory licenses. More recently, in the 2021 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS, countries committed to make use of TRIPS flexibilities, specifically geared to promoting access to medicines.


The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations—UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank—and works closely with global and national partners towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more at and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.


UNAIDS Latin America and the Caribbean
Daniel de Castro
tel. +507 6998 3175


Sophie Barton Knott
tel. +41 79 514 6896

Related: UNAIDS welcomes announcement by Colombian government that will enable people access to the most appropriate HIV treatment for them


Addressing violence against women sex workers in Peru

27 July 2023

Ángela Villón Bustamante has been a sex worker and human rights activist for her community in Peru for almost 25 years. She has experienced first-hand the violence against sex workers. After she was beaten by a policeman in 1996, she began her activism.  

"I don't want anyone else to end up almost dead like I did. The organization Miluska Vida y Dignidad (Miluska Life and Dignity, in English) is the organisation I created almost 30 years ago to find justice for those of us violated by public forces", recalls Ángela. "It was the first sex workers' organisation in Peru, and its name is in honour of my dear friend Miluska, who died after being beaten by one of them." 

In the same years, transgender woman Alejandra Fang also was imprisoned for sex work, and a police officer asked her to have sex to be released. "I was forced into sex because, as a trans woman, I had no alternative. As a result of that traumatic situation, I decided to become an activist," says Alejandra.   

Like Ángela, Alejandra also turned her negative experiences into opportunities for others so that no one would have to go through the same situations. She then became part of the Casa Trans Zuleymi and now leads Trans Organizacion Feminista (Feminist Trans Organization).   

According to the Peruvian Ombudsman's Office, 95.8% of trans women have been victims of violence, 62.2% are engaged in sex work due to lack of employment opportunities, and only 5.1% have completed secondary education.   

More than 10 cis and transgender sex workers have been murdered since the beginning of this year in Peru – four transgender sex workers in one week alone, by February 1. "This situation spread to other provinces in Peru, and sex workers had to go into hiding for weeks to protect their lives," says Ángela. "We have been unable to work and care for our basic personal and family needs."  

The criminalisation of sex workers prevents them from seeking justice when they are harassed, physically harmed, or otherwise discriminated against. "We often do not report abuse to avoid further mistreatment and because of the stigma attached to our occupation," explains the activist.  

"Whether they are living with HIV, migrants, Afro-descendants or indigenous– all these intersections generate exponential stigma and discrimination and place them in extreme vulnerability," says UNAIDS Director for the Andean Countries (Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Colombia), Andrea Boccardi. "It puts them in such a precarious situation that it makes it difficult to access health services, food security, employment, education, and justice. Although self-employed sex work in Peru is legal, they have always been criminalized."  

Given the situation of violence against sex workers in Peru, the organisations led by Ángela and Alejandra are among those implementing a plan with the Peruvian Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations to address violence against women sex workers in the country.  

More than 100 police officers have already been trained by courses designed and facilitated by cis and transgender sex workers. The training provided knowledge on human rights, stigma, and discrimination, and their essential role as guarantors of justice to contribute to adopting a human rights-based approach in their work throughout the country.  

Besides coordinating and facilitating a working group to fight violence and promote the fundamental rights of sex workers with several local and regional organizations and networks, UNAIDS has also partnered with the Public Defender's Office of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights of Peru and with representatives of the sex workers' community to develop a protocol for the provision of legal assistance and victim advocacy services to sex workers.  

"After so many years, I feel that our voice is now being heard," says Ángela.


Related resources

Find out more about HIV criminalization: 

Asociación Lambda: the second home for LGBTIQ+ migrants in Central America

27 June 2023

As millions of people around the world march in the streets of several big cities this month of June to celebrate and honor Pride Month, in Guatemala, over 200 LGBTIQ+ people in human mobility - applicants for refugee or asylum status or nationals and foreigners in transit – and in need of protection find every year in Asociación Lambda their reason to celebrate pride and life through psychosocial care, legal support, medical follow-up and the provision of a shelter or a safe space to be who they are.

Roberto Gonzales*, a Colombian migrant, is one of them. Like hundreds of thousands of other migrants, he overcame the exhausting experience of crossing the Darien Gap,  a journey in which the dangers include natural hazards and criminal gangs known for inflicting violence, including sexual abuse and robbery. According to statistics from the Government of Panama, from January to April 2023, a record number of 127,000 people crossed the Darien.

Unlike many people who go after the American dream, Gonzales wants to stay in Guatemala because the country has a lot to offer. "LAMBDA, for me, is a unique platform of empowerment. They listen to you; they invite you for training twice a month", he says. "Through Lambda, I have formed a network of friends and support. One should not forget the importance of mental health if we want to move forward."

Asociación Lambda works to improve the livelihoods of this marginalized group by providing technical assistance to community groups in management, governance, leadership, and entrepreneurship skills. Lambda's activities strengthen community organizations through education and training and build action and peer-to-peer learning networks.

Andres Martinez*, from Nicaragua, is thankful to Lambda for their support in successfully processing his refugee claim. In his country, he was persecuted for being a journalist and suffered violence in his community because of his sexual orientation. "It is difficult to reinvent oneself in another country, but my favorite color is green, the color of hope, because I hope one day to return to my country," says Martinez. "Here, at Lambda, I felt supported by a brother. One feels very safe with the staff. The shelter is my second home."

As in many parts of the world, LGBTQI+ people in Central America face a complex reality that exposes them to different forms of violence and discrimination and puts their physical integrity at risk, limits their life options, often forces them to flee their homes, and, in some cases, to escape their own countries. The National LGBTIQ+ Human Rights Observatory, which Lambda coordinates, documented at least 29 violent deaths of LGBTIQ+ people in 2022 in the region, killed for reasons allegedly related to their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.

As part of the LGBTIQ+ Pride Month activities, Lambda opened the doors of its shelter to a United Nations delegation in Guatemala led by the Resident Coordinator Miguel Barreto for an exchange with migrants hosted and receiving care in their safe space. "I came away from the dialogue more human and supportive, and convinced of the centrality of the United Nations commitment to end discrimination and exclusion, reduce vulnerabilities, and promote the human rights of every human being," said Barreto after the visit and the dialogues.

Along with UNAIDS, several UN agencies, funds, and programmes, like the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), have joined forces to support Lambda in different fronts hosting, sheltering and supporting LGBTIQ+ migrants and those in transit or in need of protection.

"Before coming to Lambda, very few of our clients had had sufficient access to information about HIV risks and prevention, many of them are victims of sexual crimes, and it is only when they arrive at Lambda that they are offered information and testing free of charge," explains Carlos Valdés, Director of Lambda. "Some people were already aware of their HIV diagnosis but did not know how to access care services."

Globally in 2021 gay men and other men who have sex with men have a 28 times higher risk of acquiring HIV than the rest of the adult (15-49) male population, and among transgender women, the risk is 14 times higher than adult women (15-49) in the general population

Among over 200 people who came to Lambda in 2022, 19% of the men and 17% of the women lived with HIV.

"The vast majority of these people were trans women and gay men, mainly from Guatemala, Honduras, Venezuela, and Nicaragua," explains Marie Engel, UNAIDS Representative for Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Honduras. "We know that these situations of stigma, discrimination, and violence create barriers to accessing health services, including HIV. We must recognize the greater vulnerability of the LGBTQI+ community to HIV and support their right to health and dignity."

*All names of Lambda beneficiaries in this report have been changed for people’s safety.

UNAIDS welcomes announcement by Colombian government that will enable people access to the most appropriate HIV treatment for them

12 June 2023

UNAIDS welcomes the issuance of Resolution 881 of 2023 by the Ministry of Health of Colombia, which initiates the administrative procedure to evaluate the existence of reasons of public interest for issuing a compulsory license for dolutegravir (DTG)-based regimens. According to the ministerial resolution, the impact of this measure could mean a significant reduction of more than 80% of DTG’s price.

Dolutegravir (DTG) is an antiretroviral integrase inhibitor, recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a first-line treatment option for people living with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Regarding viral suppression and disease reduction, treatments incorporating DTG-based regimens have demonstrated greater adherence due to their lower incidence of adverse events while presenting enhanced effectiveness, safety, and reduced likelihood of resistance development.

Compulsory licensing is a provision in the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (“TRIPS Agreement”), that enables governments to supply its citizens with generic versions of patented treatments either through domestic production or imports, ensuring drug prices are affordable. WTO Inter-ministerial 2001 Doha Declaration reaffirmed the rights of member states to make use of all flexibilities in the agreement to protect public health, including compulsory licenses, “and the freedom to determine the grounds upon which such licenses are granted.” More recently, in the 2021 Political Declaration of the United Nations General Assembly High-level Meeting on AIDS, countries have committed to make use of TRIPS flexibilities “specifically geared to promoting access to medicines.”

"This resolution is a step forward to provide equal and sustainable access to best HIV treatment options for all people living with HIV in Colombia, nationals and migrants. This action shows the government’s commitment to close the treatment gap with assured quality affordable essential medicines which are easy to take and very well tolerated.”, says Andrea Boccardi, UNAIDS Director for the Andean Countries (Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Colombia. "The government issued national guidelines in 2021, in line with WHO recommendations, but until now high prices of DTG have remained an obstacle to make it widely accessible to people living with HIV in Colombia."

The Colombian League for the Fight against AIDS and the IFARMA Foundation also celebrated the decision from the Colombian government. Both institutions participated on behalf of civil society in the updating of the Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPG) based on scientific evidence for the care of HIV/AIDS infection in adults, pregnant women and adolescents.

"The decision validates past initiatives of civil society in Colombia to achieve greater coverage of simplified treatments with fewer adverse effects at the lowest possible price, while at the same time it will reinvigorate the efforts of community-based organizations in education and promotion of adherence to ARVs, recognizing that structural barriers are factors that facilitate or hinder adherence to antiretroviral treatments", says Jorge Pacheco, Director of the Colombian League for the Fight against AIDS.

“Through this measure Colombia is taking an important step to guarantee people’s access to the most appropriate medication for them in line with international recommendations and commitments”, says Luisa Cabal, UNAIDS Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. "Timely access to effective HIV treatment can save lives, improve health outcomes, enhance the quality of life, and contribute to the overall well-being of individuals living with HIV. This measure shows commitment to the global effort to combat inequalities in access to health."

UNAIDS commends and supports the Ministry of Health for its proactive approach to pursuing public interest and urges all stakeholders to collaborate in implementing Resolution 881 of 2023. 


The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations—UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank—and works closely with global and national partners towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more at and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.


UNAIDS Latin America and the Caribbean
Daniel de Castro
tel. +507 6998 3175

Read resolution (in Spanish)

Brazil hosts the announcement of the Global Council on Inequality, AIDS and Pandemics

06 June 2023

UNAIDS launching group to generate evidence on the inequalities driving pandemics and advocate for the adoption of multisectoral approaches to strengthen the response to AIDS and other pandemics  

BRASILIA/GENEVA, 6 June 2023—Brazil is hosting the announcement of the new Global Council on Inequality, AIDS and Pandemics chaired by The First Lady of Namibia, Monica Geingos, the Director of the University College London Institute for Health Equity, Sir Michael Marmot and the Nobel prize winning economist, Joseph E. Stiglitz. Brazil’s Minister of Health, Nísia Trindade, is a founding member.

“I am delighted to host the announcement of the Global Council on Inequality, AIDS and Pandemics. It is time to convert lessons learned into action by reducing the inequalities driving today’s health crises and strengthening pandemic preparedness for the future,” said Ms Trindade, “Brazil is determined to play its part by making the case for increased collaboration and evidence-based policymaking to build more resilient health systems around the world.”

Social and economic inequalities within countries and between them are exacerbating and prolonging pandemics and amplifying their impact amongst the poorest and the most vulnerable. The same intersecting inequalities that drive HIV, COVID-19, MPox and other diseases are leaving countries and communities at risk of future outbreaks and pandemics. But experience shows that there are actions at the global, regional and national levels that can build pandemic responses that reduce rather than exacerbate inequality.

The work of the Global Council will harness essential evidence for policymakers and elevate political attention to the need for action to end inequalities that fuel AIDS and other pandemics. Crucially, it will encourage and support frontline communities to advocate for the policy shifts necessary to fight current pandemics and better prepare for tomorrow’s outbreaks.

“The AIDS response is one of the best examples of how communities experiencing intersecting inequalities can unite to overcome them and save millions of lives,” said UNAIDS Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima who is a member of the Global Council and is in Brazil for the announcement. “A broad movement of people living with and affected by HIV has brought down the price of medicines and diagnostics, strengthened national health responses, enabled the rise of a strong network of community-led organizations and secured the removal of punitive discriminatory laws in many countries. But evidence-based policies and approaches need to be applied everywhere and for everyone and sadly that’s not the case right now.” 

Gender-based inequities endanger the health of women around the world. For example, in countries including Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, and Liberia HIV prevalence for young women is more than 5 times more than young men of the same age—reflecting, in part, economic and education inequality.

“Gender inequality provides fuel to pandemics like AIDS and COVID-19” said the First Lady of Namibia, Monica Geingos. “It increases the vulnerability of women and girls to deadly viruses by limiting access to knowledge, financial resources, and life-choices and undermines their ability to protect themselves and their families. We have to re-imagine pandemic responses that can reduce inequality rather than exacerbate it.”

“Inequalities in access to health and other essential services are largely the result of deliberate policy choices,” said Joseph Stiglitz. “To fight future pandemics, we must learn the lessons of the HIV response and adopt inequality-busting approaches to make the world a healthier, fairer and safer place for everyone.”

Successes and failures in the HIV response provide valuable lessons on how the world can deal with future pandemics. For example, gay men are more likely to be living with HIV. But laws and policies drive the size of the gap. In Malaysia where gay men are criminalized and arrested gay men are 72 times more likely to be infected than other adults; but in Thailand where same-sex relations are legal and community pandemic response is strong, gay men are only 12 times more likely. Viruses cross population groups. These contribute to why Thailand, with lower inequality, is approaching epidemic control while Malaysia is losing ground in the fight against AIDS.

Meanwhile, the issue of inequality extends beyond HIV to other pandemics. Countries with higher income inequality, for example, have experienced greater COVID-19 mortality. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, wealthy countries spent billions of dollars on responses but almost half of developing countries were forced to cut health spending, undermining the capacity to fight global pandemics.  Several countries in Africa continue reporting significant numbers of MPox deaths during the pandemic, yet the vaccines being used in high-income countries are not available.        

Even within countries that have made good progress against HIV, some communities have struggled to benefit from the staggering pace of medical advances. In Brazil, HIV infections are falling dramatically among the white population as access to treatment is widened and new prevention tools such as PrEP are rolled out but HIV infections among the black population are still on the rise.

“Evidence-based strategies to address the social determinants of health are crucial not only for improved health outcomes for the individual but also for building stronger economies and fairer societies,” said Sir Michael Marmot, from Brasilia. “Health is a good marker of how well a society is doing overall. Health equity tells us about societal inequalities.”


The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations—UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank—and works closely with global and national partners towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more at and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.


Renato De Paiva Guimaraes
tel. +55 61 99304 2654


UNAIDS Latin America and the Caribbean
Daniel de Castro
tel. +507 6998 3175


Michael Hollingdale
tel. +41 79 500 2119


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