Jamra primary scholl for children affected by HIV/AIDS, drugs or poverty, Senegal (c) Nell Freeman/Alliance Participants in the Photovioce project, Ecuador © Marcela Nievas for the Alliance
  • Home > News > Why is HIV prevention failing key populations?

Why is HIV prevention failing key populations?


'George' and 'Michael' who are members of the MSM rights organisation PEMA in Kenya © Nell Freeman for the Alliance

The International HIV/AIDS Alliance is calling for human rights and greater access to health programmes for communities at the highest risk to be central to the new international HIV & AIDS agreement being finalized by the UN prior to the High Level Meeting which takes place next week.

You can add your voice to this call by visiting our ‘What’s Preventing Prevention?’ campaign site and sending a message to key attendees of the meeting. 

In advance of the UN High Level Meeting on AIDS this month (8-10 June) the Alliance’s ‘What’s Preventing Prevention?’ campaign has released a briefing which provides and analysis of how national AIDS responses are failing in their prevention efforts for people who are at higher risk of HIV (key populations).

The Alliance has analysed 132 reports from low- and middle-income countries.  They show that less than half of these countries reported current data on any of the global indicators on sex workers, men who have sex with men, and injecting dug users.

Taken as a whole, the recent global data submitted to the UN confirms that large-scale, focused HIV prevention programming is missing. It also underscores the total absence of attention that is being paid to key populations by most national AIDS responses including the failure to analyse HIV prevalence and the reach of their prevention programmes. Consequently many countries don’t know the true picture of their epidemic.

“For over 17 years the Alliance has worked to support communities who are at higher risk of HIV infection including sex workers, men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender people, and people who use drugs, because they’re from the most marginalised and persecuted communities in society. We’ve made many gains but this will be at risk if we fail to get international political commitment to ensure HIV prevention strategies target these groups,” said Alvaro Bermejo, Executive Director of the Alliance.

The Alliance calls on countries to commit to the following:

  • To reach measurable targets, the current United Nations General Assembly accountability framework – called UNGASS reporting – must be maintained and strengthened, and countries must continue to report every two years. A new Declaration of Commitment on HIV will only really be meaningful if it continues to have a strong monitoring framework that will ensure accountability is strengthened, not weakened.
  • National AIDS authorities should ensure that prevention efforts for key populations are put in place and scaled up in order to have an impact.

To make these happen, the Alliance also strongly recommends:

  • An investment should be made to support low- and middle-income countries in their use of more robust data to judge their prevention efforts. This includes stronger information about programming with key populations, as well as better measures related to other priority populations such as youth. Adequate investment and technical design should not simply result in vertical monitoring efforts for HIV and AIDS, but should also be used as an opportunity to strengthen public health systems overall.
  • Donors and technical agencies should ensure that low- and middle-income countries receive more relevant support in order for national AIDS prevention programmes to be effective.

“On the ground, violence, stigma and discrimination are driving the very people who need support away from it” says Bermejo. “We should be doing all we can to make sure that there are adequate and targeted HIV responses for these communities, which protect them and make them an active part of our health responses. They should not be persecuted or left to die.”

The UN High Level Meeting on AIDS takes place 8-10 June in New York. The Alliance will be represented by the following people:

James Robertson, Country Director, India HIV/AIDS Alliance
Amira Herdoiza, Executive Director, Kimirina (Ecuador)
Andriy Klepikov, Executive Director, Alliance Ukraine
Pavlo Skala, Programme Manager, Alliance Ukraine
Prasada Rao, Alliance Trustee
Oum Sopheap, Executive Director, KHANA (Cambodia)
Javier Hourcade Bellocq, Alliance Regional Representative, Latin America and Caribbean
Magatte Mbodj, Executive Director, ANCS (Senegal)
Lydia Saloucou, Executive Director, IPC (Burkina Faso)
Gaspard Sitefane, Executive Director, MONASO (Mozambique)
Sidya Gassama, Civil Society Delegate, ANCS (Senegal)
Mark Ndayiragije, Chair of the Board, ABS (Burundi)
Marielle Hart, Policy Manager, Alliance US Office
Mike Podmore, Policy Manager, Alliance UK Secretariat

Read more on HIV prevention and the High Level Meeting

Our report ‘Don't stop now, finish the job!: Making HIV prevention funding work’

Stay up to date with developments leading up to the High Level Meeting on AIDS

A provisional list of side events at the High Level Meeting on AIDS

Read blogs on Ensuring concerns of Senegalese civil society are reflected at the meeting and Lessons learnt from the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly in Budapest.