Health Policy Project

The Health Policy Project has ended, but work continues under a new USAID five-year project, Health Policy Plus (HP+).

Key Populations

Arseny Vesnin 



The Role of Policy, Advocacy, Governance and Financing in Addressing Concentrated HIV Epidemics

UNAIDS estimates that 34 million people throughout the world are living with HIV. However, the effects of the epidemic are not distributed evenly. Prevalence rates among certain key populations, including men who have sex with men MSM), sex workers, transgender persons, and people who inject drugs (PWID), are significantly higher than those of the general population. Such groups are more vulnerable to HIV infection for a variety of reasons, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, including “more frequent exposure to the virus, involvement in risky behaviors, potentially weak family and social support systems, marginalization, lack of resources, and inadequate access to healthcare services.” In addition, stigma and discrimination are widely recognized as undermining efforts to prevent the spread of HIV and pose barriers to accessing care and treatment services, particularly for people living with HIV (PLHIV) and other marginalized groups.

Health inequities are not limited to groups affected by HIV. Vulnerable populations, such as pregnant women, girls, and poor people in general, are at higher risk of social exclusion and face barriers in accessing high-quality healthcare services, whether it is for family planning and reproductive health commodities or safe delivery during childbirth. For individuals who are members of both key and vulnerable populations (e.g., pregnant women who inject drugs), the barriers and risks compound. These individuals cannot benefit from life-saving health services if they do not have access to them, are afraid to seek them, or experience stigma or discrimination when trying to access them. To address the health needs of those who face a higher degree of disease burden, destitution, or other factors that put individuals at risk, it is important that policies promote health equity. To improve health outcomes, family planning, HIV, and maternal and child health programs need to be designed to address the unique physical and social needs and contexts of key populations and other vulnerable groups.

What We Do

The Health Policy Project (HPP) is committed to enhancing access to high-quality healthcare services among key populations at higher risk for HIV infection and morbidity. To do so, we strengthen the capacity of government, health institutions, civil society, and individuals to use evidence-based analysis to advocate for stronger policies and equitable health services that reach people most at risk. We also work to empower individuals and groups among vulnerable populations—whether MSM, transgender people, PWID, and sex workers or women, girls, and poor families living in rural areas—to become more involved in the policy process and work together to advocate for equal access to healthcare. We

  • Provide technical assistance to government and health institutions in developing policy and advocacy tools to improve health and HIV services for key populations
  • Foster partnerships among government institutions, national HIV councils, and key populations at higher risk to devise and implement policies and strategies that curb HIV-related stigma and discrimination
  • Strengthen the capacity of PLHIV, MSM, women’s associations, and other vulnerable groups to participate in the decision-making process and influence policy change for equitable access to health services
  • Develop policy and advocacy toolkits for advocates, service providers, and policymaking bodies to better understand the policy requirements for effective health and HIV services that target key populations
  • Work with indigenous women’s networks to address inequities in health and education for people living in rural areas

Publications and Resources

Gender and Sexual Diversity Training and Facilitation Materials

Health Policy Project's Transgender Health Topics Page

Policy Analysis and Advocacy Decision Model for Services for Sex Workers, Transgender, and Males Who Have Sex with Males

HIV Policy Analysis and Advocacy Decision Models for Key Populations
The model identifies policies that most directly affect access to key services and opportunities to improve access.

Policy Analysis for Key Populations at Risk of HIV Infection in Togo

Ukraine HIV Policy Assessment
This report evaluates the degree to which an enabling policy framework for HIV exists in Ukraine, with a focus on HIV prevention among key populations at higher risk.

What Works for Women and Girls: Evidence for HIV/AIDS Interventions
This website provides information for people involved in policy and programs related to women and girls’ health in developing countries.

PEPFAR Technical Guidance: Prevention for Men Who Have Sex with Men
As part of PEPFAR’s overall prevention strategy, this guidance document addresses prevention programs for Men Who Have Sex with Men.

PEPFAR Technical Guidance: Prevention for People Who Inject Drugs
Guidance on the development of HIV prevention-focused programs for IDUs in an effort to reduce their risk of HIV acquisition and transmission.


HPP Supports Transgender and Hijra Consultation in Kathmandu

How Can People Living with HIV and Key Populations Access Justice in Ghana?

Universal health coverage requires quality healthcare access for stigmatized populations

Nothing About Us Without Us: The Evolving Role of PEPFAR in Community Engagement

News: Health Policy Project Supports "Equality for All" Campaign in the Caribbean
Campaign promotes human rights, aims to reduce HIV-related stigma and discrimination in St. Kitts and Nevis.

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The Health Policy Project is a five-year cooperative agreement funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development under Agreement No. AID-OAA-A-10-00067, beginning September 30, 2010. The project's HIV-related activities are supported by the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). It is implemented by Futures Group, in collaboration with Plan International USA, Avenir Health (previously Futures Institute), Partners in Population and Development, Africa Regional Office (PPD ARO), Population Reference Bureau (PRB), RTI International, and White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood (WRA). The information provided on this Web site is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

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