Ralph Ivan Samson, the President of Y-PEER Pilipinas, and his team of young volunteers have been working tirelessly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to supply antiretroviral therapy to young people struggling to get refills. “How could I sleep at night knowing that community members were depressed and anxious about their refills. I had young people texting me they were down to their last couple of pills,” said Mr Samson, remembering the initial COVID-19 outbreak in the Philippines in March 2020. It was at this moment that he knew he had to do something.

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New report provides update on trends in the region and outlines the problematic laws and policies that continue to impact people living with HIV and key populations1

Bangkok, 14 January 2021 – Reforming laws and policies to ensure they are grounded in evidence and human rights is essential for an effective HIV response in Asia and the Pacific, says a new joint report by UNAIDS and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

In 2015, 193 United Nations Member States agreed on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This included a goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 and leaving no one behind through a multisectoral, rights-based, people-centred approach that addresses the determinants of health. Yet, legal and policy obstacles continue to undermine an effective HIV response in the region – particularly among vulnerable populations – limiting access to prevention, testing, treatment and care services.

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Warm smiles greet Lily as she approaches her first stop of the day—one of the 11 brothels scattered across the country that Lily, the President of the Bangladesh Sex Worker Network, visits quarterly to check in with the women and see what assistance they need. Though her visits have been limited in recent months due to movement restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19, Lily knows well enough that those smiles are a brave front for the troubling times that her peers have experienced.

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Warm smiles greet Lily as she approaches her first stop for the day. It is one of the 11 brothels scattered across the country that Lily, the President of the Bangladesh Sex Worker Network, visits quarterly to check in with the women and see what assistance they require. Though her visits have been limited in recent months due to movement restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19, Lily knows well enough that those smiles are a brave front for the troubling times that her peers have confronted.

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Islamabad, 9 December 2020: The Government of Pakistan has recently launched another landmark initiative, the Essential Package of Health Services—its national version of universal health coverage. Universal health coverage is a globally promoted initiative and is in line with Pakistan’s commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly target 3 on health for all and leaving no one behind.

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Rena Janamnuaysook steps off the Skytrain in Bangkok’s bustling Sukhumvit shopping district. She looks up, filled with a sense of joy as her eye catches an advert just beyond the platform. The advert is promoting the PrEP in the City campaign to raise awareness and increase the uptake of PrEP among Thai transgender women and shows glimpses of the lives of four transgender women as they juggle their busy work schedules, their role as a mother and their relationship with loved ones, all the while taking control of their health with their daily dose of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). For Ms Janamnuaysook, a transgender advocate and Program Manager for Transgender Health at the Institute of HIV Research and Innovation (IHRI), this first-ever PrEP campaign for transgender women in Thailand signals promise for the country’s HIV response.

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As COVID-19 pushes the AIDS response even further off track and the 2020 targets are missed, UNAIDS is urging countries to step up action to end AIDS and other pandemics.

Bangkok, 1st December 2020 —In a new report, Prevailing against pandemics by putting people at the centre, UNAIDS is calling on countries to make far greater investments in global pandemic responses and adopt a new set of bold, ambitious but achievable HIV targets. If those targets are met, the world will be back on track to ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

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On the occasion of World AIDS Day, we recall lessons learned from the HIV epidemic, most especially that restrictive, stigmatizing and punitive measures can lead to significant human rights violations, with disproportionate effects on already vulnerable communities. These insights from the HIV response are especially relevant today as countries grapple with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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