Our programmes are informed by evidence in order to respond to the needs of those most vulnerable to HIV and its consequences.
The impact of HIV is felt most strongly, and understood most profoundly, by those living with the disease. The meaningful involvement of PLHIV and affected communities makes a powerful contribution to the HIV response by empowering people living with HIV to draw on their individual experiences. In turn this contributes to reducing stigma and discrimination and increasing the effectiveness and appropriateness of programmes.
Given the significant differences between HIV epidemics around the world, population priorities will vary depending on the nature of the epidemic, including whether there is high, medium or low HIV prevalence and whether the epidemic is widespread or concentrated within specific populations, such as people who inject drugs or men who have sex with men.
One of the key aims of this Code is to articulate the principles, practices and evidence base that underscore successful NGO work in responding to HIV and that have global applications. It is not within the scope of the Code to provide detailed programming responses for the diversity of epidemics worldwide. Nonetheless, this section aims to highlight some of the key population groups that need to be considered in our work, depending on the context.
Priority must be given, and resources allocated, to meet the needs of those most vulnerable to HIV and its impacts. While PLHIV, their families and carers are a consistent priority, populations particularly vulnerable to HIV and its impacts will vary from country to country, depending on the nature of the epidemic. This demands that our responses to HIV be based on context-specific evidence. We need to understand the epidemiology, the social patterns of sexual activity and injecting drug use and the nature of the impact of HIV in any given context.
Attention needs to be paid to the gender dimensions of HIV. HIV is not only driven by gender inequity - it entrenches it. Women and girls are becoming increasing vulnerable to HIV infection and bear the overwhelming burden of AIDS care, both informally in their families and communities and in the formal care sector. The ‘feminisation' of epidemics is starkest where heterosexual sex is the dominant mode of transmission. Women also figure significantly in many countries with epidemics that are concentrated in key populations such as injecting drug users, mobile populations and prisoners.