The COVID-19 pandemic has widened inequalities, claimed lives and disrupted HIV and tuberculosis (TB) services. It has affected the most vulnerable, including people living with, at risk of and affected by HIV. By reducing inequalities, social protection facilitates the uptake of HIV, TB and other essential health services. It improves adherence to HIV and TB treatment, reduces HIV risk and mitigates the social and economic impacts of HIV and COVID-19.
In 2015, all countries pledged to reduce inequalities within and between countries as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. This pledge is reinforced by the Global AIDS Strategy 2021-2026: End Inequalities, End AIDS and the 2021 United Nations Political Declaration on AIDS. Governments must promote inclusive social and economic growth and access to social protection for vulnerable people, including key populations, people living with HIV and others.
A satellite session at the 2021 International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa showcased UNAIDS’ call to action on reducing inequalities in support of key populations, children, adolescents and people living with HIV accessing social protection benefits.