Feature story

New indicators added to Key Populations Atlas

06 January 2022

The UNAIDS Key Populations Atlas is an online tool that provides a range of information about members of key populations—sex workers, gay men and other men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, transgender people and prisoners—worldwide, together with information about people living with HIV.

Information about gay men and other men who have sex with men has been expanded with the inclusion of 11 new indicators from the EMIS and LAMIS projects. Under funding from the European Commission, EMIS-2017 collected data from gay men and other men who have sex with men in 50 countries between October 2017 and January 2018. LAMIS is the Latin American version of EMIS and finished data collection across 18 additional countries in May 2018.

The 11 new indicators shown in the Key Population Atlas—on syphilis, symptomatic syphilis, gonorrhoea, symptomatic gonorrhoea, chlamydia, symptomatic chlamydia, sexually transmitted infections testing, syphilis partner notification, gonorrhoea partner notification and hepatitis A and B vaccination—were chosen because of their high relevance to the communities.

Community-led and community-based infrastructure is essential for addressing the inequalities that drive pandemics such as the AIDS and COVID-19 pandemics, as well as for ensuring the continuity of health services and protecting the rights and livelihoods of the most vulnerable. The EMIS and LAMIS findings will be important for informing civil society organizations working on sexual health, HIV prevention and sexual minority rights and for policymakers, non-community prevention planners, epidemiologists and modellers.

“To leave no one behind, we need people-centred data collection that spotlights the inequalities that are hampering access to services. It is critical to understand who are the most affected and unable to access services. This will enable the European Commission, European Union Member States and civil society and community organization alike to address the specific needs of gay men and other men who have sex with men,” said Jantine Jacobi, the UNAIDS representative to the European Union.

Civil society and community-based organizations, especially those led by key populations, can complement traditional health systems’ pandemic responses, but this requires that they be treated as full partners—involved in governing, designing, planning and budgeting pandemic responses––with the technical and financial support to do so effectively.

The findings of the new indicators will help to increase the role of partnerships and communities across each country and will serve as the basis for decision-making and policy planning. For example, in Ireland, the EMIS-2017 National Report acknowledges that, “there has been an increase in HIV and STI testing compared to previous surveys and this is in some part due to the positive interventions carried out by stakeholders and the MSM [men who have sex with men] community in response to findings from previous surveys. Some of these positive interventions in relation to HIV testing can also be attributed to the increased availability of community testing.”

Our work