Young people

UNAIDS appoints the First Lady Neo Jane Masisi as a champion for adolescent girls and young women

21 September 2023

NEW YORK/GENEVA, 21 September 2023—UNAIDS has designated the First Lady of Botswana, Neo Jane Masisi, as a UNAIDS champion for the empowerment and engagement of adolescent girls and young women. UNAIDS Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima, confirmed the appointment during a meeting with Mrs Masisi during the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

“Her Excellency Mrs Masisi has a deep understanding of the structural barriers that are making adolescent girls and young women so vulnerable to HIV infection in Botswana and right across Africa,” said UNAIDS Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima. “Mrs Masisi is a fierce advocate for the rights of young women and girls and for the need to support them to stay in school, finish their education and receive the knowledge they need to help them thrive.”

Mrs Masisi has already been working closely with UNAIDS for several years as an advocate for young people. In her new role, Mrs Masisi will champion Education Plus, an initiative launched by UNAIDS, UNESCO, UNICEF, UNFPA and UN Women to prevent HIV infections through free universal, quality secondary education for all girls and boys in Africa, reinforced through comprehensive empowerment programmes. Botswana joined the initiative in June.

In Botswana, young girls aged 15-19 years old are seven times more likely to become infected with HIV than their male counterparts. During the meeting the First Lady said that surveys showed that between 2015 and 2019 young women and girls accounted for 36% of all new infections in Botswana and 19 are boys and 43 girls become infected every week.    

“I will be serving with this special title at a crucial moment. The SDGs are just around the corner and it is the last sprint to end AIDS by 2030,” said Mrs Masisi. “We will be discussing some hard issues to protect our children and young people. But the good thing about our communities today is that they realise that these are not ordinary times, and they know that doors that were closed, mouths that were sealed—its time they were opened. I remain resolute in directing energies to supporting young people in my country.”


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 appoints the First Lady of Sierra Leone as a champion for adolescent girls and young women

19 September 2023

NEW YORK/GENEVA, 19 September 2023—UNAIDS has named the First Lady of Sierra Leone, Fatima Maada Bio, as a UNAIDS champion for the empowerment and engagement of adolescent girls and young women in Sierra Leone. UNAIDS Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima, confirmed the appointment during a meeting with Mrs Maada Bio and her husband President Julius Maada Bio at the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly taking place in New York.

“I am delighted to welcome Her Excellency Mrs Fatima Maada Bio to the UNAIDS family as a champion for adolescent girls and young women,” said Ms Byanyima. “The First Lady is a strong advocate for the empowerment of women and girls. I look forward to continuing to work together to end gender inequalities that drive HIV including sexual and gender-based violence, and to ensuring that our girls and young women have all the information and knowledge they need to lead healthy lives.”

Mrs Maada Bio is a leading advocate for the Hands Off Our Girls Campaign, a movement launched by President Maada Bio in December 2018 to ban early child marriage and end sexual violence against women and girls. In 2022, she spearheaded the adoption of the first ever World Day for the Prevention of, and Healing from Child Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Violence, which is commemorated annually on 18 November.

Mrs Maada Bio is also a champion of Education Plus, an initiative launched by UNAIDS, UNESCO, UNICEF, UNFPA and UN Women to prevent HIV infections through free universal, quality secondary education for all girls and boys in Africa, reinforced through comprehensive empowerment programmes.

“My hope is for a future where all women have equal rights,” said Mrs Maada Bio. “Where women and men can sit at the same table and make decisions together, where women are given the space to lead. That is my hope because then we will know that real equality has arrived for us all.” 


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.


Future doctors take active role in HIV response to end AIDS

28 August 2023

Medical student Anaïs Maillat, 21, joined METIS (Movement of The Students Against Inequalities in Health Access) for a simple reason. The children’s beaming smiles drew her in.

As a member organization of the International Federation of Medical Students Association (IFMSA), the Swiss Medical Students Association (SWIMSA) Switzerland, launched the program CALWHA which works with children and adolescents living with HIV and AIDS in Tanzania.

Ms. Maillat focused on the Mwanza region where the rate of HIV infection is higher than the national average as its project coordinator.

“Our project is currently helping more than 400 children living with HIV and AIDS,” she said. “We organize activity days in hospitals where children and adolescents get check-ups, medicine, a meal, educational activities, and a safe space to play,” she added.

Activity days are held on three Saturdays of each month for children and adolescents aged 0 – 19 years old to improve clinic attendance and treatment adherence. “For many children, the hospital is far, so parents miss work, which has a cost,” Ms. Maillat explained. The project pays for people’s transportation to the hospital and that help allows many children to stay on treatment, according to CALWHA.

Like Ms. Maillat, medical students worldwide are taking an active role in the HIV response in their native countries.

Ana Laura Nascimento, a 21-year-old medical student and member of IFMSA Brazil, became an advocate for sexual and reproductive health rights through Pense Positivo, a project that organizes HIV awareness activities for houseless individuals and sex workers.  

During her school years, Ms. Nascimento said she realized there was a clear demand to educate her peers about sex due to sexually transmitted infection (STI) outbreaks. “We organized Testar é Saber (“testing is knowing”), a campaign to encourage students to get tested for HIV, syphilis, hepatitis B and C,” she said.

That led to information sessions at the university including doctors, public health professionals, and the municipality. As a result, the school now offers testing events twice a year.

Ms. Nascimento went on to lead and become a member of IFMSA Brazil’s National Officers for Sexual and Reproductive Health (NORA).

In Malaysia, another NORA leader, Joseph Hamzah Anwar, is a 25-year-old medical student and a member of Society of MMA Medical Students. He became an outreach worker for People Like Us Hang Out (PLUHO) - an LGBTQ organization based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia that focuses on mental health.

“I met doctors who are not sensitized to issues that HIV comes with and this discourages clients from seeking treatment,” he said. In his view, the younger generation of doctors need to be aware and knowledgeable, so people stay on HIV treatment and live their lives like any other person.

As members of IFMSA, these future doctors have been organizing activities with communities as part of the organization’s aim to strengthen its involvement in the HIV response.  They also seek to educate the public about HIV and AIDS and reduce stigma and discrimination in all healthcare facilities.

Representing more than a million medical students as their members, IFMSA also contributes to the Global Partnership to End All Forms of HIV-Related Stigma and Discrimination and holds a leadership role in The PACT, a global coalition of youth-led organizations advocating for sexual and reproductive health rights.  

On August 24, IFMSA, with the International Pharmaceutical Students’ Federation (IPSF) launched a Declaration of Commitment to HIV and AIDS. The Declaration will guide IFMSA and IPSF in their future efforts to contribute to the AIDS response.

All three future doctors hope that the declaration will encourage others to join the global youth movement to end AIDS. “With the activities outlined in the declaration, I believe we are on the right track to end AIDS by 2030,” Mr. Anwar said.

“I truly believe that young people have the potential to unite to end AIDS,” Ms. Maillat said. “We are the generation of unity. Let’s do this. You and me.”

New report from UNAIDS shows that AIDS can be ended by 2030 and outlines the path to get there

13 July 2023

GENEVA, 13 July 2023—A new report released today by UNAIDS shows that there is a clear path that ends AIDS. This path will also help prepare for and tackle future pandemics and advance progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The report, ‘The Path that Ends AIDS’, contains data and case studies which highlight that ending AIDS is a political and financial choice, and that the countries and leaders who are already following the path are achieving extraordinary results.

Botswana, Eswatini, Rwanda, the United Republic of Tanzania, and Zimbabwe have already achieved the “95-95-95” targets. That means 95% of the people who are living with HIV knowing their HIV status, 95% of the people who know that they are living with HIV being on lifesaving antiretroviral treatment, and 95% of people who are on treatment being virally suppressed. A further 16 other countries, eight of them in sub-Saharan Africa, the region which accounts for 65% of all people living with HIV, are also close to doing so.

“The end of AIDS is an opportunity for a uniquely powerful legacy for today’s leaders,” said Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “They could be remembered by future generations as those who put a stop to the world’s deadliest pandemic. They could save millions of lives and protect the health of everyone. They could show what leadership can do.”

The report highlights that HIV responses succeed when they are anchored in strong political leadership. This means following the data, science, and evidence; tackling the inequalities holding back progress; enabling communities and civil society organizations in their vital role in the response; and ensuring sufficient and sustainable funding.

Progress has been strongest in the countries and regions that have the most financial investments, such as in eastern and southern Africa where new HIV infections have been reduced by 57% since 2010.

Thanks to support for and investment in ending AIDS among children, 82% of pregnant and breastfeeding women living with HIV globally were accessing antiretroviral treatment in 2022, up from 46% in 2010. This has led to a 58% reduction in new HIV infections among children from 2010 to 2022, the lowest number since the 1980’s.

Progress in the HIV response has been strengthened by ensuring that legal and policy frameworks do not undermine human rights, but enable and protect them. Several countries removed harmful laws in 2022 and 2023, including five (Antigua and Barbuda, the Cook Islands, Barbados, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Singapore) that have decriminalized same-sex sexual relations.

The number of people on antiretroviral treatment worldwide rose almost fourfold, from 7.7 million in 2010 to 29.8 million in 2022.

However, the report also sets out that ending AIDS will not come automatically. AIDS claimed a life every minute in 2022. Around 9.2 million people still miss out on treatment, including 660 000 children living with HIV.

Women and girls are still disproportionately affected, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Globally, 4,000 young women and girls became infected with HIV every week in 2022. Only 42% of districts with HIV incidence over 0.3% in sub-Saharan Africa are currently covered with dedicated HIV prevention programmes for adolescent girls and young women.

Almost one quarter (23%) of new HIV infections were in Asia and the Pacific where new infections are rising alarmingly in some countries. Steep increases in new infections are continuing in eastern Europe and central Asia (a rise of 49% since 2010) and in the Middle East and North Africa (a rise of 61% since 2010). These trends are due primarily to a lack of HIV prevention services for marginalized and key populations and the barriers posed by punitive laws and social discrimination.

Funding for HIV also declined in 2022 from both international and domestic sources, falling back to the same level as in 2013. Funding amounted to US$ 20.8 billion in 2022, far short of the US$ 29.3 billion needed by 2025.

There is an opportunity now to end AIDS by increasing political will by investing in a sustainable response to HIV through financing what matters most: evidence-based HIV prevention and treatment, health systems integration, non- discriminatory laws, gender equality, and empowered community networks.

“We are hopeful, but it is not the relaxed optimism that might come if all was heading as it should be. It is, instead, a hope rooted in seeing the opportunity for success, an opportunity that is dependent on action,” said Ms Byanyima. “The facts and figures shared in this report do not show that as a world we are already on the path, they show that we can be. The way is clear.”

In 2022, an estimated:

  • 39.0 million people globally were living with HIV
  • 29.8 million people were accessing antiretroviral therapy
  • 1.3 million people became newly infected with HIV
  • 630 000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses


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.


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Demanding more options for young people who use drugs in Nepal

26 June 2023

“Drugs were a way to escape from reality. But because of it, I have faced a lot of discrimination,” said Yukusna Kurumbang. “After a while I had no one around me. No friends I could contact. I have my family but they do not trust me. I am trying to improve.” 

There aren’t many resources at Ms. Kurumbang’s disposal. She’s fashioned her own path to recovery including volunteering with YKP Lead Nepal—a youth-led organisation. 

“I’m investing in myself and others to escape drugs,” she explained. “I’m trying to control my mind.” 

The organisation’s President, Rojal Maharajan, recalls the feeling of isolation he too faced while using: “It’s very humiliating—the gossiping and negative comments. My family also got sick and tired of me. Eventually I had no one to tell about my problems and my mental health status.” 

He started his advocacy eight years ago after a successful rehabilitation stint.  

“I wanted to do this work to make sure young people who use drugs are treated as human beings. They deserve to have a good life and better opportunities,” he said. 

These deeply personal perspectives help YKP Lead Nepal respond to the addiction challenge facing Nepal’s youth. And it’s a complex challenge.  

There was a 2021 review of the human rights situation of people who use drugs in Nepal by the International Drug Policy Consortium, Recovering Nepal, YKP LEAD Nepal and Youth Rise International. It notes that the Narcotic Drugs Act criminalises not only drug possession, but addiction itself. According to a 2019 survey of people who use drugs, almost half had been arrested for drug use or a related offence. Among people who injected drugs the arrest rate shot up to 63%.  

Treatment for drug dependence is privatised and inaccessible to most, including residents of border towns where services are most scarce. Among those who have had access to drug treatment, one in ten reports having experienced ill-treatment, violence and even torture.

The Government of Nepal has made progress around the provision of harm reduction services including needle and syringe programmes and opiate agonist therapy (OAT). However there are allegations that police frequently harass and detain people visiting these facilities.  

“Punitive drug policies across the region have created a culture of violence and impunity by law enforcement,” said Ikka Noviyanti, Regional Coordinator of Youth LEAD, the Asia and the Pacific young key population network. “This makes it more difficult for people to reach the range of prevention and treatment services they need to stay safe. The situation is even more dire for youths.” 

A 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs survey determined that over three-quarters of people who use drugs in Nepal are under age 30. Another study found that one-third of young people who use drugs started before age 15, with almost half commencing drug use between 15 and 19. The advocates say that in lieu of heroin which is expensive, there’s a growing trend of young people mixing and injecting tranquilizers like Diagepam, Nitrazepam and Dormin. 

Injecting drug use increases the risk of abscesses as well as illnesses including HIV, Hepatitis B and C. HIV prevalence for injecting drug users is 3% for males and 2% for females. By comparison, Nepal’s adult general population HIV prevalence is 0.1%.  YKP Lead Nepal is advocating for disaggregated data so they can better grasp the scale of the HIV burden carried by young people.  

The organisation shares safety information with clients along with clean needles and syringes. During the Covid-19 lockdowns, for example, they home delivered both food and harm reduction packages. Their outreach includes homeless young people.  

But the advocates say that even when clients are aware of the risks, there are barriers to staying safe.  

“Most of them don’t want to go to the service sites,” Mr Maharajan explained. “Many of the young women have told us they are harassed at the OAT clinics. Others have a concern that the people running the needle exchange programmes are from rehabs. They don’t want to be forced to go (to rehab) because they are fearful of torture.”  

UNAIDS Country Director for Nepal, Masauso Nzima, says that the Government of Nepal has made a move in the right direction with its investment in harm reduction services. However, more needs to be done to ensure a people-centred approach to drug policies “if we are to make a sustained difference in the lives of young people”. 

“A critical step is the adoption of laws that treat drug dependence as a health condition rather than a crime. Action is also needed to outlaw torture and ill treatment, holding violators accountable and providing increased oversight for rehabilitation centres. Finally, we are advocating for expanded access to drug treatment and harm reduction programmes, without discrimination,” Mr Nzima said. “That means young people, women and people living in all parts of the country should have equitable access.” 

YKP Lead Nepal goes a step further, calling for designated days for young women to access harm reduction services and for young people to be among the service providers.  

With support from UNAIDS Asia Pacific, Youth LEAD is now piloting a “Regional Healthcare Worker Training Manual: Friendly HIV and SRHR services for young key populations in Asia Pacific”. The approach is meant to address the multiple barriers to young key populations accessing services including concerns about privacy and confidentiality, stigma and discrimination among healthcare providers, inconvenient opening hours and service packages that do not speak to their specific needs. 

“Young people account for one of four new HIV infections in Asia and the Pacific,” Ms. Noviyanti said. “We are failing young people. But with targeted investments for youth-led responses and action we can turn the tide.”

Young role models combat HIV stigma in Central Asia

22 June 2023

Last year, Elina Kruglova made a bold decision. She disclosed her HIV status during the casting of a popular reality TV show in Uzbekistan.

“I disclosed my status right at the casting because the project lasted for several months, and I needed to take medicine daily,” she said. “I made the decision to be honest and mustered up the courage. I thought they wouldn't accept me, but I passed the casting," Ms Kruglova explained.

In her second-year student in the Faculty of Agricultural Economics at Tashkent State Agrarian University in Uzbekistan, she grew up in an orphanage. She was the first child living with HIV in her country to start antiretroviral (ARV) therapy seventeen years ago. Despite facing stigma, she has been taking life-saving medicine daily.

Uzbekistan struggles with HIV-related stigma and discrimination.

According to the recent Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) in Uzbekistan, 76% of women aged 15-49 in the country would refuse to purchase vegetables from a vendor living with HIV and would not accept children living with HIV attend school with other children. Prejudice is fuelled by a lack of knowledge; only 14% of women in the same age group possess comprehensive information about HIV. Uzbekistan's HIV cases have steadily risen by 44 % in the last six years (31,088 in 2016 to an estimated 45,000 in 2022.)

Throughout the TV show, Ms Kruglova shared her experiences of being an orphan and living with HIV. Over time she became an inspiration for young people and those living with HIV.

"When the TV episode aired, I started contemplating how people would perceive me, what they would say, and how they would react,” she recalled. “Psychologists were working with us during the project, which made it easier for me to handle the pressure."  

To her surprise, people positively reacted when they recognized her on the streets, and she received numerous supportive messages from people living with HIV via Instagram.

"I am grateful for the trust they placed in me " she said.

For her, the Tashkent day-care center for children and families affected by HIV supported by UNICEF and UNAIDS played a crucial role in her life. It provided a safe haven, gave guidance throughout her childhood and teenage years. The center's support group, the professional consultations, and master classes helped her develop practical life skills. She is optimistic about the future and believes that people can change their attitudes towards HIV with the right information and education.  In her mind, hiding only makes things worse.

Aida Muravyova knows all about the power of disclosing her HIV status.

She is a 16-year-old school student in Kazakhstan and learned about her HIV status when she was 6 years old. Although advised against disclosing her status at school and extracurricular activities, Aida chose a different path.  She shared her HIV status with her classmates in school and took on the role of breaking down the myths and misconceptions surrounding HIV in front of her peers and adults.

“When I was told about my HIV diagnosis, I thought to myself, 'Okay, I have red hair, I have HIV, I take pills... what else?!'"

Ms Muravyova found solace through the Teenergizer Movement, a youth-led initiative supported by the Kazakhstan Government, UNICEF, UNAIDS and other donors. Teenergizer aims to empower young people living with HIV. It created a safe space for young women like her to connect, have fun, and share experiences without shame or stigma. The movement has reached many young people in the country, creating a ripple effect of reliable information and support.

When Teenergizer came along, Ms Muravyova invited classmates to join. "They got valid information, learned with me, and even conducted training sessions,” she said. “The most gratifying part was when one of my classmates' mothers, initially frightened by my HIV status, learned about HIV through her child's participation in Teenergizer.”

Her friend told her that her family had an open conversation, hashed out concerns, and now everything is okay.

Gender assessments conducted in several countries of Central Asia, including Kazakhstan, confirmed that gender inequality, stereotypes, customs and practices increase women’s vulnerability to HIV as well as limit their choices and expose them to socioeconomic and health difficulties.

Ms Muravyova refuses to let her HIV status define her or limit her dreams.. "I have seen many people living with HIV, but never in my field of Electrical and Aerospace Engineering... I want to change that perception and demonstrate that living with HIV can be different, cool, and interesting."

The UNAIDS Regional Policy and Equality Officer in Central Asia, Elena Kiryushina, sees role models like Elina and Aida as well as community networks as key.

“Promoting leadership among adolescent girls and young women, fostering positive masculinities in boys and men, providing care and support to adolescents living with HIV, especially those who lost parents and access to comprehensive sexuality education in and out of schools, and supporting gender-transformative approaches are essential steps to address HIV and gender-related stigma and to build foundation for the gender equality in Central Asia and beyond,” she said.

UNAIDS and partners believe empowering women and girls and challenging cultural norms is crucial to address HIV stigma and ensure equal access to support and health services.

Ms Muravyova has one mantra. “Speak, and don't be afraid!,” she said. “We are together, and together we'll make it through.”

The urgency of HIV prevention among adolescent girls and young women

01 June 2023

My name is Naadu Awuradwoa Addico and I work as a Project Officer at Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG). On 24 May, I participated in a Ministerial meeting organized by the Global HIV Prevention Coalition titled High-Level Dialogue on accelerating HIV prevention and preparing for future pandemics.

In that meeting I shared the story of Abena, a young woman from Ghana who, at age 19, contracted HIV from a 40-year-old man who coerced her into transactional sex with the promise to fund her high school fees.

While I avoid the obvious details, I ask: What if Abena was empowered to negotiate for safer sex? What if she had access to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)? What if she lived in a community with robust social support systems that catered for her needs?

You see, these are some of the reasons why HIV prevention cannot wait!

Many adolescent girls like Abena face poverty, disability, marginalization, discrimination and exploitation. These factors perpetuate HIV transmission and hinder an effective response to AIDS. Just last year, an adolescent girl or young woman acquired HIV every two minutes.

This is beyond alarming!

Policies and laws must allow girls to not only access HIV prevention services like PrEP, but also to complete their education regardless of their background and circumstances. Abena need not have paid such a heavy price to get the support she needed for her schooling.

In reference to the popular saying ‘teamwork makes the dream work’, young women and girls have a crucial part to play on this journey of ending AIDS. So, I appealed to Governments in the meeting as well as global leaders, donors and all stakeholders to provide resources and commit to ensuring girls like Abena can have equal access to knowledge, support and safe spaces to remain HIV free.

When you are developing and implementing HIV prevention programmes for young people and making critical decisions about our health and well-being, let our voices be heard and echoed. We want to work with you.

Related: UNAIDS alerts countries to an unprecedented opportunity to stop new HIV infections, end AIDS and prepare for future pandemics


Thailand’s Mplus: HIV services delivered in style

13 December 2022

“This isn’t your mother’s clinic!” said one amazed visitor.

From banners to brochures, all promotional materials are slick and cheerful. Smiling faces and toned torsos are everywhere. A purple colour scheme covers the whole building. Even files and staff face masks are colour coordinated. A pair of Facebook Live hosts have the good looks and energy of K-pop stars. And the organization’s slogan is decidedly upbeat: “where community fulfills your happiness”.

Over almost two decades, Thailand’s Mplus Foundation has refined a unique approach to providing comprehensive HV services to key population clients including men who have sex with men and transgender women.

Their method goes far beyond a cool brand identity. Mplus has leveraged domestic and international partnerships to create a key population-led health service with impressive results. They dispense more than half of the PrEP in Thailand’s Chiang Mai province.

This year they tested 95% of the almost 8000 people they reached with face-to-face services. Of those who tested positive, 91% were placed on treatment while the other 9% are in follow-up case management. And 100% of their clients who received viral load testing were found to be virally suppressed.   

“Community organizations can best reach key populations to receive services. We find that people who do not want to get tested at the hospital are comfortable with peers who they know understand their  life,” explained Pongpeera Patpeerapong, Director of the Mplus Foundation.   

Since its formation in 2003 Mplus has evolved to deliver a full range of services. They now have health centres in four provinces, while their mobile testing units serve clients in another five districts. They support a local hospital in each province, linking people to care and helping them with adherence. Mplus provides rapid testing, CD4 and viral load monitoring, and is also authorized to dispense medication. A small fleet of motorcycles even makes PrEP deliveries to clients in remote areas.

Both their online and offline engagements are anchored by a peer-led strategy. Their social media presence is commanding—everything from Twitter to Tik Tok. There are closed Facebook groups and special applications for clients to connect with community. Offline, they go beyond information booths to host parties and sport meet-ups. These aren’t just bonding exercises. Clients book appointments online and face-to-face interactions usually result in receiving an HIV test.

Mplus also provides technical assistance to other countries. It has supported an organization in Laos with online interventions and helped community groups in Cambodia develop campaigns to promote PrEP.

They played a key role in advocating nationally for the accreditation of community health workers. All Mplus staff are certified by the Department of Disease Control following a rigorous programme of study, evaluation and practice.

The programme continues to progress.  Mplus is strengthening their mental and emotional health support offering, and is working towards becoming certified to provide HIV and sexually transmitted infection (STI) treatment.

While in the past the programme was more heavily funded by the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief through the United States Agency for International Development, today half of their investments come from branches of the National Health Security Office.

“Domestic funding is very important to develop our systems,” Mr. Patpeerapong said. “Community-based organizations have to be able to access domestic funding to cover more issues, including stigma and discrimination.”

Empowering key population-led health services has been crucial in improving Thailand’s HIV programme results. One of five people living with HIV in Thailand were identified and referred by a key population-led health service under the domestic health financing scheme. Four out of five people on PrEP in the country are served by community-led organizations. These services play a critical role in Thailand’s  strategy of Reach, Recruit, Test, Treat, Prevent, Retain.

“Thailand is well-positioned to be a leader in addressing the need for a sustainable community-led response as a critical part of the health infrastructure,” said UNAIDS Country Director for Thailand, Patchara Benjarattanaporn. “By creating an enabling system for health outreach we can address the challenge of late diagnosis and better reach key population communities with services.”

Thailand has integrated HIV services into its Universal Health Coverage scheme and increased investments in key population- and community-led health services. UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) members visited Mplus and other community-led health services ahead of the 51st PCB meeting in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Inequalities are blocking the end of the AIDS pandemic, say UN

29 November 2022

DAR ES SALAAM / GENEVA, 29 November 2022—Analysis by the UN ahead of World AIDS Day reveals that inequalities are obstructing the end of AIDS. On current trends the world will not meet agreed global targets on AIDS. But the new UNAIDS report, Dangerous Inequalities, shows that urgent action to tackle inequalities can get the AIDS response on track.

UNAIDS set out earlier this year that the AIDS response is in danger—with rising new infections and continuing deaths in many parts of the world. Now, a new report from UNAIDS shows that inequalities are the underlying reason why. It shows how world leaders can tackle those inequalities, and calls on them to be courageous to follow what the evidence reveals.

Dangerous Inequalities unpacks the impact on the AIDS response of gender inequalities, of inequalities faced by key populations, and of inequalities between children and adults. It sets out how worsening financial constraints are making it more difficult to address those inequalities.

The report shows how gender inequalities and harmful gender norms are holding back the end of the AIDS pandemic.

“The world will not be able to defeat AIDS while reinforcing patriarchy,” said UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima. “We need to address the intersecting inequalities women face. In areas of high HIV burden, women subjected to intimate partner violence face up to a 50% higher chance of acquiring HIV. Across 33 countries from 2015-2021 only 41% of married women aged 15-24 could make their own decisions on sexual health. The only effective route map to ending AIDS, achieving the sustainable development goals and ensuring health, rights and shared prosperity, is a feminist route map. Women’s rights organizations and movements are already on the frontlines doing this bold work. Leaders need to support them and learn from them.”

The effects of gender inequalities on women’s HIV risks are especially pronounced in sub- Saharan Africa, where women accounted for 63% of new HIV infections in 2021.

Adolescent girls and young women (aged 15 to 24 years) are three times more likely to acquire HIV than adolescent boys and young men of the same age group in sub-Saharan Africa. The driving factor is power. One study showed that enabling girls to stay in school until they complete secondary education reduces their vulnerability to HIV infection by up to 50%. When this is reinforced with a package of empowerment support, girls’ risks are reduced even further. Leaders need to ensure all girls are in school, are protected from violence which is often normalized including through underage marriages, and have economic pathways that guarantee them a hopeful future.

By interrupting the power dynamics, policies can reduce girls’ vulnerability to HIV.

Harmful masculinities are discouraging men from seeking care. While 80% of women living with HIV were accessing treatment in 2021, only 70% of men were on treatment. Increasing gender- transformative programming in many parts of the world is key to halting the pandemic. Advancing gender equality will benefit everyone.

The report shows that the AIDS response is being held back by inequalities in access to treatment between adults and children. While over three quarters of adults living with HIV are on antiretroviral therapy, just over half of children living with HIV are on the lifesaving medicine. This has had deadly consequences. In 2021, children accounted for only 4% of all people living with HIV but 15% of all AIDS-related deaths. Closing the treatment gap for children will save lives.

Discrimination against, stigmatization and criminalization of key populations are costing lives and preventing the world from achieving agreed AIDS targets.

New analysis shows no significant decline in new infections among gay men and other men who have sex with men in both the western and central Africa and eastern and southern Africa regions. Facing an infectious virus, failure to make progress on key populations undermines the entire AIDS response and helps explain slowing progress.

Around the world, over 68 countries still criminalize same sex sexual relations. Another analysis highlighted in the report found that gay men and other men who have sex with men who live in African countries with the most repressive laws are more than three times less likely to know their HIV status than their counterparts living in countries with the least repressive laws, where progress as far more rapid. Sex workers who live in countries where sex work is criminalized have a 7 times greater chance to be living with HIV than in countries where sex work is legal or partially legalized.

The report shows progress against inequalities is possible and highlights areas where the AIDS response has made remarkable progress. For example, while surveys among key populations often highlight lower service coverage among key populations, three counties in Kenya have achieved higher HIV treatment coverage among female sex workers than among the general population of women (aged 15-49 years). This has been helped by strong HIV programming over many years, including community-led services.

“We know what to do to end inequalities,” said Ms Byanyima. “Ensure that all of our girls are in school, safe and strong. Tackle gender based violence. Support women’s organisations. Promote healthy masculinities—to take the place of the harmful behaviours which exacerbate risks for everyone. Ensure services for children living with HIV reach them and meet their needs, closing the treatment gap so that we end AIDS in children for good. Decriminalize people in same-sex relationships, sex workers, and people who use drugs, and invest in community-led services that enable their inclusion — this will help break down barriers to services and care for millions of people.”

The new report shows donor funding is helping catalyse increased domestic funding: increases in external HIV funding for countries from PEPFAR and the Global Fund during 2018-2021 were correlated with increases in domestic funding from a majority of national governments. New investments to address HIV-related inequalities are urgently needed. At a moment when international solidarity and a surge of funding is most needed, too many high-income countries are cutting back aid for global health. In 2021, funding available for HIV programmes in low- and middle-income countries was US$ 8 billion short. Increasing donor support is vital to getting the AIDS response back on track.

Budgets need to prioritize the health and well-being of all people, especially vulnerable populations that are most affected by HIV-related inequalities. Fiscal space for health investments in low- and middle-income countries needs to be expanded, including through substantial debt cancellation and through progressive taxation. Ending AIDS is far less expensive than not ending AIDS.

In 2021, 650 000 people were lost to AIDS and 1.5 million people newly acquired HIV.

“What world leaders need to do is crystal clear,” said Ms Byanyima. “In one word: Equalize. Equalize access to rights, equalize access to services, equalize access to the best science and medicine. Equalizing will not only help the marginalised. It will help everyone.”




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.


Dangerous inequalities: World AIDS Day report 2022

Watch report launch

World AIDS Day 2022 — Message from Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS

Asia-Pacific youth demand robust action to lower the HIV risk of young key populations

25 October 2022

Youth advocates from 14 countries have called on governments and development partners in the Asia-Pacific region to adopt a comprehensive approach to addressing the high HIV risk now borne by young key populations. (Key populations are groups that are particularly vulnerable to HIV. They include men who have sex with men, people who use drugs, sex workers and transgender people.)

Held on October 20 and 21 in Bangkok, the 2nd Asia Pacific Youth Forum was co-organized by the Thailand Ministries of Public Health and Foreign Affairs, the UNAIDS Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific and Youth LEAD. Among other priorities, delegates advocated for more youth leadership, equitable access to quality and youth-friendly healthcare services, stronger strategies to tackle stigma and discrimination and increased access to funding for youth-led and key population programming.

UNAIDS data reveal that in 2021 there were an estimated 260 000 new HIV infections in Asian and Pacific countries. According to a recent report by UNAIDS, UNICEF, UNFPA and Youth LEAD,  young people aged 15–24 years accounted for 26% of these cases. In some countries including Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines and Thailand, more than 40% of new infections were among youth. HIV transmission to young people rose for seven countries in the region since 2010—Afghanistan, Fiji, Malaysia, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Timor-Leste. Strikingly, in the 15 - 24 age-group, almost all (99%) new infections regionally were among people from key populations and their partners.

“Preventing HIV, STIs and all emerging diseases among young people requires addressing the root causes that put young people at risk, including gender-related, socio-economic inequalities, and stigma and discrimination,” said Mr. Satit Pitutacha, Thailand’s Deputy Minister of Public Health.

Ms Eksiri Pintaruchi, Director-General of the Department of International Organizations in the Thailand Ministry of Foreign Affairs highlighted the work of the Thai Network of Young People Living with HIV including providing peer support for young key populations, linking them to services, offering life skills training, mental health support and psychosocial care.

UNAIDS Asia and Pacific acting Regional Director, Mr Taoufik Bakkali said: “We need to address the inequalities that create vulnerability. By investing in youth today we will not only achieve a win for the HIV response, but also significant progress for the Sustainable Development Goal agenda.”

Youth LEAD’s Project and Networking Officer, Legee Tamir, noted the crucial need to increase spaces for youth leadership, especially as young key populations are still left behind in national, regional and global decision-making spaces where their voices would make a difference.

On day one of the forum youth delegates convened to share experiences. They noted legal and policy barriers including the age of consent, concerns about privacy and confidentiality and stigma and discrimination among healthcare providers. The opening hours of public clinics are not convenient for young people and services are not tailored to meet their needs.

The consultation resulted in nine recommendations which were presented to government and development stakeholders on the forum’s second day. They are as follows:

  1. Strengthen the leadership and meaningful engagement of young people, including young key populations and young people in all their diversity, within the HIV response
  2. Increase awareness about existing HIV and sexual and reproductive health and rights programmes for young key populations
  3. Engage and collaborate with stakeholders (including governments, the private sector, communities, media) in advocacy campaigns
  4. Ensure equitable and convenient access to HIV services, including for youth in rural areas, and modernise HIV services 
  5. Tackle harmful stigma and discrimination in household, education and healthcare settings through funding and partnering with efforts led by young key populations that address deeply rooted traditional beliefs and practices 
  6. Review and reform laws and policies that affect young key populations and ensure they are aligned with international human rights norms and recommendations
  7. Ensure the availability and accessibility of quality, youth-friendly and non-discriminatory programmes and services that ensure the mental wellbeing of young key populations
  8. Invest in the organisational strengthening and sustainability of youth-led organisations at different capacities
  9. Empower youth-led organisations and create more conducive, flexible and simpler processes to access opportunities for external and domestic funding

UNAIDS and its regional partners through the Asia Pacific Inter Agency Task Team on Young Key Populations will use this set of recommendations to inform future initiatives for young key populations in the region.