Panama, September 30th, 2020 – The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) congratulates the first 26 organizations that qualified for the 2020 Call for Strengthening Community- Based Organizations in the Response to HIV in Latin America and the Caribbean in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. These projects were selected out of the 133 applications that met the eligibility criteria. In total, UNAIDS received 198 applications between July and August 2020.
The selection of these 26 projects is a result of a thorough evaluation process conducted by a joint committee formed by UNAIDS and its co-sponsoring agencies: the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO). These projects will be executed in 16 different countries of the region: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela.
"These proposals are innovative community-led and community-based solutions that will contribute with the HIV and COVID-19 responses of Latin American and Caribbean countries, with an intersectional approach," explains Dr. César Núñez, UNAIDS Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. "Among the applications there are dozens more equally qualified to receive catalytic funding, and that is why we will continue to mobilize UNAIDS' partners to confirm further contributions so that we can announce at least one additional funding phase for these organizations."
These projects aim to address the challenges countries face when responding to two epidemics that are now converging and profoundly affecting the most vulnerable people. Several online surveys conducted by UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Latin America and the Caribbean since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic have showed the diverse vulnerabilities of people living with or affected by HIV, not only in terms of COVID-19 prevention, but also in HIV prevention and human rights.
Among the 26 proposals, 14 will focus on "Prevention of COVID-19 transmission", 22 on "HIV response, prevention and continuum of care", and 13 on "Human rights, stigma, discrimination and violence towards people living with or affected by HIV and COVID-19". However, many of them respond to one or more lines of work simultaneously with a focus on key populations, gay men and other men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgender people, drug users, people in prison, women, young people living with or affected by HIV, indigenous people, afro-descendants, and people on the move (migrants, refugees, or asylum seekers) living with or vulnerable to HIV.
In nearly 40 years of experience in responding to HIV, the world now knows that civil society and community-led initiatives are essential to the context we face with the advent of COVID-19.
"We need to build a culture of solidarity, trust, commitment and kindness. Community-based organizations and civil society reach out to those populations that are being left behind, and achieve strong results," says Núñez. "Ultimately, we are confident that these 26 interventions will help us build a more effective, more humane and sustainable response to both HIV and COVID-19”.