International strategy: Towards a world without AIDS

Condom distribution in Malawi

Founded by AIDS-activists in 1985, AIDS-Fondet (the AIDS Foundation) is the leading organisation in Denmark working on issues related to HIV and AIDS. We provide support to persons living with HIV and work to prevent HIV as well as stigma and discrimination towards persons living with HIV.

Our vision

We envision a world where people living with or affected by HIV are free from stigma and discrimination and have access to the newest and most effective treatment and prevention methods regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, occupation, migrant status, religion or country of residence.

Leaving no one behind

All over the world men who have sex with men, sex workers, trans people, prisoners and drug users continue to be stigmatised, criminalised and discriminated. This not only violates their universal human rights; it also fuels the HIV epidemic.

Our international interventions target these key populations in the regions most affected, because they are much more vulnerable to HIV than the general population. These groups are typically marginalised by their own governments and are frequently left out of mainstream HIV prevention efforts. The result is a disproportionally high HIV prevalence among these groups. AIDS-Fondet seeks to ensure their rights and address their needs where public measures fail to do so.

Local partnerships

Our international interventions are based on local partnerships. We believe that locally-based organisations have the best knowledge about local culture and context as well as the best access to and legitimacy among populations whose rights and needs we seek to address. Wherever possible, we form partnerships with organisations that are founded and led by members of key populations themselves, since we believe that change should ideally arise from the needs and demands of the community itself. When it is not possible to form such partnerships, we work through local partners that apply a human rights-based approach with the aim of empowering key populations to mobilise and organise themselves. . We also work strategically with large service-delivery organisations on integrating key population-specific measures in their services.

Geographical focus

We focus our interventions in Eastern and Southern Africa and in Eastern Europe. Eastern and Southern Africa face a generalised epidemic with 19 million people living with HIV (2015). As a result of stigma, discrimination and criminalisation, key populations are extremely vulnerable. For example, HIV prevalence among sex workers vary from 50 percent to 70 percent in several countries in the region.

Eastern Europe is currently experiencing the fastest growing HIV epidemic in the world fuelled by intense marginalisation, criminalisation and discrimination of key populations, especially men who have sex with men, drug users and sex workers – a dynamic, which is exacerbated by the on-going armed conflict in Ukraine. As opposed to the generalised epidemic in Eastern and Southeast Africa where 25 percent of new infections occur among young women, Eastern Europe is affected by a concentrated epidemic with more than half of new infections occurring among key populations (2014). In both regions, we focus our efforts on the most marginalised populations.

Our methodology – a three-dimensional approach

AIDS-Fondet applies a three-dimensional approach to HIV prevention among key populations. It consists of (1) Mobilising key populations to disseminate knowledge about HIV/AIDS and demand access to health services; (2) Ensuring access to stigma-free health services of the highest attainable quality; and (3) Working to remove structural barriers to effective prevention and treatment, such as criminalisation, discrimination and stigmatisation based on legal, cultural and/or socio-economic grounds.

Our approach is based on recommendations by WHO and UNAIDS as well as years of experience – ours as well as our partners’ – working with grassroots organisations to address the needs of vulnerable groups. Since key populations are often forced underground by stigma and violence and are thus difficult to reach with mainstream information and prevention efforts, we enable key population communities to disseminate tailor-made knowledge and information to promote safe sex practices and health-seeking behaviour.

Since one of the most serious barriers to health-seeking behaviour among key populations is fear of stigma and discrimination from the health system itself, we also target public health systems with advocacy and training to increase their knowledge of HIV and strengthen their capacity to stigma-free health services to key populations.

Last but not least we address structural barriers to effective prevention and treatment, such as criminalisation as well as social and religious condemnation of homosexuality, sex work and other practices that transgress mainstream perceptions of acceptable behaviour. We work politically and practically towards the removal of harmful laws and practices with the objective of protecting key populations against violations and attacks. And we work with networks of traditional and religious leaders towards inclusion and acceptance of key populations in society. 

Monitoring and Evaluation

AIDS-Fondet strives to generate tangible, sustainable and measurable results. We apply a systematic and participatory approach to monitoring and evaluation (M&E) in all activities (see AIDS-Fondet’s Principles and Guidelines on M&E). We use M&E tools actively to continuously improve our interventions and to lobby for political change. For example, we support documentation of human rights violations of sex workers and LGBT persons because documentation of these violations is the first step in the process of ending them. To ensure that beneficiaries are able to influence the implementation of our joint projects, their participation is an essential part of our M&E. Procedures and tools for systematic and participatory M&E are agreed upon in close collaboration between us and our local partners during the project development phase. All projects have separate M&E plans, stating the indicators, how they are documented, who is responsible and how data will be analysed and evaluated.

Accountability

AIDS-Fondet’s Board of Directors is democratically elected by our members, staff and volunteers. To ensure diversity of the BoD and influence from key groups, the board always includes at least one person living with HIV, one man who has sex with men and one member of ethnic minority background. One medical doctor is also required. Annual audits are conducted by an independent state-licensed auditor.

See annual reports here.

See an example of AIDS-Fondet’s anti-stigma campaigns here.