Feature story

UN Plus relaunches to support and advocate for UN workforce members living with HIV

28 May 2024

UN Plus, the association of United Nations (UN) staff members living with HIV has been re-established. 

Originally created in 2005 to advocate for the rights and well-being of UN staff members living with HIV around the world, the association paused its operations in 2021 due to global changes and funding challenges. Now, a newly established nine-member advisory committee from various UN entities and regions around the world is working again to ensure that UN staff members living with HIV have access to medications, health insurance benefits, and mental health support, as well as to actively combat HIV-related stigma and discrimination within the UN system.

“I want to express my gratitude for the admirable work that you are doing to revitalize the UN Plus mission,” said Winnie Byanyima, UNAIDS Executive Director. “Together we can make a difference, let’s ensure a safe, supportive UN environment for all, which must include people living with HIV,” she added.

As part of its revitalization efforts, UN Plus members conducted a global survey in late 2023 to understand the experiences and challenges of their colleagues living with HIV. 74 respondents from diverse backgrounds shared their experiences with stigma, discrimination, and health-related issues.   

The survey findings underscored that many UN workforce living with HIV still face workplace stigma and discrimination, which negatively affects their professional opportunities and personal well-being. Mental health concerns were also prominent, often stemming from issues related to their HIV status.

UN Plus will work closely with UN agencies, to develop and implement policies that specifically protect the rights of its staff living with HIV. This includes advocating for non-discriminatory hiring practices and career advancement opportunities.

John (JB) Bryant Collier, Chair of UN Plus Advisory Group stated that UN Plus will address those issues through a comprehensive plan informed by the survey findings. “UN Plus is committed to making UN workforce members living with HIV feel supported and empowered wherever they are in the world,” he said.

UN Plus plans to introduce training programs for UN staff members to raise awareness about HIV and HIV-related stigma and discrimination and mental health issues, as well as the importance of supportive workplace environments.

In addition, UN Plus will work to ensure that UN staff members living with HIV have access to the latest treatments and medications and will set up mechanisms for regular monitoring and reporting on their status and well-being, including periodic surveys and feedback sessions to continually adapt and improve the provision of support services.

The relaunch of UN Plus signifies a strong commitment to improving the work environment and overall well-being of UN workforce members living with HIV, and to ensuring they receive the support and resources necessary to thrive professionally and personally.

UN staff living with HIV; challenges and opportunities — Survey report by the UN Plus team at UNAIDS