In Asia and the Pacific, young key populations (YKPs) experience gender-based violence (GBV) and multiple, intersecting discrimination on the basis of age, race, ethnicity, HIV status, economic status, geographical status, religion, migration status, disability, and sexual orientation and gender identity, expression and sex characteristics (SOGIESC).

Stigma, discrimination and GBV aggravate HIV and other health threats faced by YKPs. They also obstruct YKPs from accessing vital information and the services they need, including health, social protection and legal services. Read More



For those most vulnerable to HIV – including people living with HIV, gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers, people who use drugs, young people, migrants and prisoners – already facing challenges and disenfranchisement from the wider community, the hardships they face in employment, accessing healthcare, household settings, livelihood and social protections have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, civil society and key population (KP) networks report alarming instances of human rights violations and growing concerns about the rise in discrimination targeting vulnerable groups and health care professionals. Read More

In Asia and the Pacific 300 000 people were newly infected with HIV and 160 000 died of AIDS-related illnesses in 2019. Key populations and their partners accounted for an estimated 98% of new HIV infections, and more than one quarter of new HIV infections were among young people (aged 15 to 24 years).The response could be set back further if the COVID-19 pandemic results in severe disruptions to HIV services.

Bangkok, Thailand, 7 July 2020—A new report by UNAIDS shows highly unequal progress in Asia and the Pacific region. Because the achievements have not been shared equally within and between countries, the global HIV targets set for 2020 will not be reached. The report, Seizing the moment, warns that even the gains made could be lost and progress further stalled if we fail to act. It highlights just how urgent it is for countries to double down and act with greater urgency to reach those that are still left behind.

In Asia and the Pacific, 3 countries, including Australia, Cambodia and Thailand, have achieved the 90–90–90 HIV treatment targets (with a minimum of 73% of people living with HIV having suppressed viral loads).

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Bangkok, Thailand, 26/06/2020: In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, UNAIDS, APCASO and APN+ issued a joint statement to emphasize the key role that the HIV response can play in developing and implementing equitable systems for health, including sustainable HIV and COVID-19 programming.

Vulnerable and marginalized people are often the most affected by COVID-19, physically, economically and socially. They are the least able to protect themselves, often living in crowded conditions without sufficient hygiene facilities or on the street. In the context of lockdowns, women have faced increased rates of gender-based violence. Vulnerable and marginalized people are also the least likely to be able to access social protection measures designed to ensure access to basic food, hygiene and livelihood support. Read More


Bangkok, Thailand; June 26, 2020

Globally, almost half a million people have died from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and the number of infections grows daily.

In the Asia and Pacific region, we have lost more than 40 000 people to the pandemic and over 1.6 million people have been infected. Fortunately, most countries in the region are beginning to see a decline in new infections, but high infection rates are still occurring in some countries. We must not allow complacency to enable a second, potentially more severe wave of infections to harm more people or to require a return to economically devastating lockdowns. Read More

June 1, 2020

Against the backdrop of COVID-19, recalling the 2012 Joint Statement on compulsory
drug detention and rehabilitation centres and the 2020 Joint Statement on COVID-19
in prisons and other closed settings, United Nations entities urgently appeal to Member
States to permanently close compulsory drug detention and rehabilitation centres and
implement voluntary, evidence-informed and rights-based health and social services in
the community as an important measure to curb the spread of COVID-19 and to facilitate
the recovery and reintegration of those in the centres back into their families and

The COVID-19 pandemic is posing multiple challenges to countries in Asia and the
Pacific in designing and implementing response and recovery measures that are
efficient and respect the rights of all people, with the objective of leaving no one behind.
Among the groups particularly at risk of contracting the virus are people in compulsory
drug detention and rehabilitation centers. They are often comprised of people who are
suspected of using drugs or being dependent on drugs, people who have engaged in
sex work, or children who have been victims of sexual exploitation.

Criteria for detention in these centres vary within and among countries, but people are
often detained without sufficient due process, legal safeguards or judicial review in the
name of “treatment” or “rehabilitation”. They face higher vulnerabilities, including HIV,
TB as well as COVID-19, as a result of sub-standard living conditions, including massive
overcrowding and related challenges in maintaining physical distancing. Moreover,
detention in these centres has been reported to involve forced labour, lack of adequate
nutrition, physical and sexual violence, and denial or comparatively lower access to and
quality of healthcare services.

During this global health emergency, United Nations entities reiterate their call on
Member States that operate compulsory drug detention and rehabilitation centres to
close them permanently without further delay, to release individuals detained as an
important additional measure to curb the spread of COVID-19 and to refrain from the
use of any other form of detention.

The United Nations entities stand ready to work with Member States as they take steps
to permanently close compulsory drug detention and rehabilitation centres and to
transition to an evidence-informed system of voluntary community-based treatment and
services that are aligned with international guidelines and principles of drug dependence treatment, drug use and human rights.


This Joint Statement is endorsed by 13 United Nations entities including OHCHR, UNAIDS, ILO, UNDP, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNODC, UNWOMEN, WFP, WHO, UNESCO and IOM.

Download the Joint Statement

For media enquiries:

Todd Pitman, Public Information Officer, UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia, + 66 63 216 9080,

Michela Polesana, Advocacy Adviser, UNAIDS Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, + 66 94 519 4092,


As the coronavirus pandemic has unfurled across the world, the public health crisis has brought with it considerable social and economic aftershocks, which may be felt disproportionately by populations which are likely to be left behind.  Aside from the direct risks to physical health, the psychological impacts of COVID-19 also pose significant risks to mental-wellbeing as elevated levels of stress and anxiety are further exacerbated by the ongoing uncertainty of the situation. The discrimination and marginalization experienced by members of young key populations (YKPs) and young people living with HIV (YPLHIV) places them at heightened risk of experiencing mental health challenges during this time.  National lockdowns, restricted movement and closure of non-formal education opportunities resulting in a lack of social engagement with peers and educators, may further aggravate feelings of loneliness, depression and anxiety in young key populations and young people living with HIV.

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Message from Eamonn Murphy, UNAIDS Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific

In a world with advancing biomedical technology for preventing, testing and treating HIV, it is shocking that AIDS is still so prevalent in this modern age. Globally 35.4 million people have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the start of the epidemic.

Behind these numbers are lives of humans unnecessarily lost, and families and friends who were left behind. We mourn for them. And today we remember them. Read More