UN Task Team on Social Protection and HIV

10 May 2017
Michelle Remme & Annie Holmes

At the end of April in Geneva, the International Labour Organization (ILO) hosted the annual meeting of the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Team on Social Protection and HIV. The group is co-convened by UNICEF and the World Bank, with UNAIDS as the secretariat. The IATT brings together members from UN agencies, civil society, donors, senior government members and academia, in order to share evidence, tools and guidance for joint action.

“To strengthen national social and child protection systems to ensure that, by 2020, 75 per cent of people living with, at risk of and affected by HIV who are in need benefit from HIV-sensitive social protection.” Key target for fast track, UN General Assembly: 2016 Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS

At the 2017 meeting, UNAIDS launched the HIV and Social Protection Assessment tool. This has been piloted in Kenya and Zambia, and will be used to scope out and map social protection mechanisms that could or should benefit people living with HIV, at risk of or affected by HIV. This assessment can then form the basis for developing mechanisms to inform or link people to the social protection services to which they are entitled.

Key messages emerging from the meeting included:

  • a general consensus around the need to move beyond an HIV-specific focus and engage strategically with other sectors and in the social protection arena in the broader context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • a call for continued advocacy in collaboration with civil society for sustainable financing for HIV-sensitive social protection
  • the importance of synthesizing evidence for all IATT partners

UNAIDS, UNDP and the World Bank presented several studies. The World Health Organization (WHO) shared initiatives in the tuberculosis (TB) field, including the Social Protection Action Research and Knowledge Sharing (SPARKS), to enable cross-disease learning and cross-disease action going forward. Professor Lucie Cluver from Oxford University presented initial findings from a large study on the impact of social protection on TB outcomes among adolescents living with HIV in South Africa. Michelle Remme, who represented STRIVE, presented initial results from two related studies on the cost-effectiveness of cash and food transfers as measures to mitigate the impact of food insecurity on retention in care and treatment adherence. 

Other agencies providing updates included PEPFAR (on DREAMS), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund), HousingWorks, FHI360, the Gates Foundation, the AidsFonds, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and the International Children’s Palliative Care Network.

For some recent materials in this field, see: