Many factors in society, including poverty, stigma, discrimination and persistent gender and socioeconomic inequalities, influence the health of individuals and communities, the participants heard at a side event at the United Nations High-Level Meeting on AIDS, being held in New York and online from 8 to 10 June.
At the event, Increasing Access to Life Changing Social Protection Systems to Key Populations, People Living with HIV, Children and Adolescents, speakers pointed out that it is at the intersections of multiple inequalities that the most vulnerable people lie. Compounding vulnerabilities hit the most marginalized and left behind people, and COVID-19 has brought those inequalities to the forefront.
The event highlighted promising country experiences. It showcased innovative approaches in enhancing access to social protection by people living with, at risk of and affected by HIV and brought together high-level representatives of governments, civil society, donors and academia to accelerate joint programming of HIV and social protection programmes to respond to COVID-19 and end AIDS by 2030.
The new global AIDS strategy aims to reduce the inequalities that drive the AIDS epidemic and acknowledges social protection’s central role in that. Social protection has the power to address the social and economic drivers of the HIV epidemic and to break down the barriers that people face in accessing HIV services. Social protection comprises public and private action to reduce risk, poverty and inequality, such as social safety nets, social security and labour market policies. It includes education, nutrition, housing, health and other social services.