Key Populations

Key Populations: Ensuring Human Rights & Leaving No One Behind

HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support are a human rights priority ... as much a challenge for leadership as it is for vulnerable populations.
—Archbishop Desmond Tutu


Holding hands in Mozambique (c) PSI

PEPFAR stands firmly and unequivocally with and for key populations. These groups include gay men and other men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, sex workers, transgender persons, and prisoners.

In almost every country in the world, members of these populations are at greater risk for HIV than the rest of the population. Globally, these key populations account for 45 percent of new HIV infections, according to UNAIDS, although they make up a much smaller proportion of the total population.

PEPFAR has several dedicated initiatives for expanding access to and retention in HIV prevention, treatment, and care services by members of key populations, including a Key Populations Investment Fund. PEPFAR intends to spend over $360 million to support key populations across the countries where we work. This will be accomplished with over $260 million in key populations-focused resources implemented through our 2018 Country Operational Plans and our strategic investment of nearly $100 million in resources previously committed for the Key Populations Investment Fund, which will primarily fund indigenous organizations that are reaching key populations with HIV services at the community level.

Addressing Stigma, Discrimination, and Human Rights

Date: 2015 Location: Bangkok, Thailand © Richard Nyberg / USAID

When any member of a community is stigmatized or unable to access services due to discrimination, the health and human dignity of everyone in the community are threatened.

Laws, regulations, and policies that relate to HIV as well as stigma and discrimination on the part of health care workers and community leaders can deter members of vulnerable groups from seeking and obtaining health services. PEPFAR’s programs support the creation of non-stigmatizing environments that protect human rights and enable all persons receiving services to have consistently safe access to quality clinical and community-based care and support.


PEPFAR has publicly opened our data, leading by example to drive greater program efficiency, transparency, coordination, and mutual accountability. With the PEPFAR Dashboards, you can explore PEPFAR's global investments and achievements in responding to the HIV epidemic. Take a look at the slideshow below to learn more about how PEPFAR is making an impact in the global HIV response.

Partnerships and Initiatives

A Continuing Commitment: The Key Populations Investment Fund

Date: 2014 Description: Rainbow flags in Vietnam © USAID Vietnam

Demonstrating the depth of our commitment to key populations, PEPFAR has announced a Key Populations Investment Fund (KPIF) to increase access to quality HIV services for these groups.

The aim of this fund is to identify, measure, and change the complex dynamics driving stigma, discrimination, and violence as well as to expand key populations' access to and retention in HIV prevention, treatment, and care services. Bolstered by data, it will support multi-year, comprehensive approaches to directly fund community-based organizations serving key populations.

PEPFAR’s planned investment for expanding key populations’ access to HIV prevention and treatment services will include nearly $100 million previously committed for its Key Populations Investment Fund, which will primarily support indigenous organizations reaching key populations with HIV services in communities.

Joining Forces with the Elton John AIDS Foundation

Date: 2016 Description: Elton John and Ambassador Birx at the 2016 International AIDS Conference © PEPFAR

PEPFAR and the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) are partnering on a $10 million initiative to strengthen organizations working to meet the HIV-related needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean.

EJAF and PEPFAR are each investing $5 million to improve LGBT people’s access to HIV services and help create non-stigmatizing environments by working with community leaders, civil society, and service providers. The partnership targets projects that support LGBT people in countries with a high HIV burden. Building on previous efforts, the first two recipients of The LGBT Fund were announced at the 2016 International AIDS Society Conference in Durban, South Africa.

Date: 2016 Description: Robert Carr Fund Logo © Robert Carr Fund Robert Carr Civil Society Networks Fund
PEPFAR is a founding donor of the Robert Carr Civil Society Networks Fund (RCNF), which strengthens civil society networks and helps populations most in need of HIV services.

Key Populations Challenge Fund
PEPFAR's $20 million Key Populations Challenge Fund with an additional $13 million from PEPFAR country programs supports country-led plans to expand services for key populations.

Key Populations Implementation Science Initiative
PEPFAR's $15 million Key Populations Implementation Science initiative helps identify the specific interventions that are most effective for key populations, along with the best ways to implement them at the local level.

Local Capacity Initiative
Through the Local Capacity Initiative (LCI), PEPFAR has committed $25.5 million to support local NGOs in up to 14 countries where PEPFAR works. The resources will go toward helping the NGOs build their capacity for addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic through legal and policy advocacy. LCI also assists local organizations to reduce stigma and discrimination as well as plan and implement country programs.

Date: 2015 Location: Thailand Description: Man in Just Play Safe T-Shirt Holding Condom © Montakan Tanchaisawat/USAID