Safety and Security Toolkit: Strengthening the Implementation of HIV Programs for and with Key Populations

There is a growing awareness of the unacceptable scale and pernicious nature of chronic violence experienced by members of and individuals who work with key populations: men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, sex workers, and transgender people. Evidence of the impact of such violence—on the safety and security of individuals, families, and communities— has been documented by a range of organizations and, in turn, has been the subject of national, regional, and global advocacy.

In recent years, a series of extreme situations in countries as diverse as Uganda, the Philippines, and Chechnya has highlighted that hostile environments and rights violations affect the safety and security not only of key population members, but also the people, organizations, and programs that support them. In this way, safety and security challenges can negatively affect all aspects of the HIV program cycle as illustrated in Figure 1, which is based on programmatic guidance produced by LINKAGES.

The specific harms caused to community-based organizations (CBOs) led by and/or serving members of key populations, who are acknowledged as vital to effective HIV programming, are also widely recognized. Many groups have found effective ways to mitigate the impacts of safety and security concerns and/or respond effectively in the face of violence, but a greater and more systematic investment is needed to identify and address safety and security in almost every context where HIV programming for key population occurs.

This toolkit was developed to help program implementers, particularly CBOs and others working in direct service delivery, to more effectively address safety and security challenges within their implementation of HIV programs for and with key populations. It is designed for use in hostile environments; for example, where members of key populations are criminalized and face elevated levels of stigma, discrimination, and violence. It seeks to amplify good programming through identifying and cataloging promising practices and tools, making overarching recommendations to address safety and security challenges, and providing a systematic approach (via checklists) to identify and respond to one’s own safety and security gaps. It also clearly describes the context in which safety and security investments are needed and the importance of these investments for an effective HIV response.

The toolkit was developed by the International HIV/ AIDS Alliance as a member of the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on Violence, Stigma, and Discrimination against Key Populations. The TAG is convened by the Linkages across the Continuum of HIV Services for Key Populations Affected by HIV (LINKAGES) project, which is supported by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and led by FHI 360. The toolkit includes extensive input from implementers working in East Africa, due to the growing safety and security concerns of many local partners in the region who—in collaboration with the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, LINKAGES, and other members of the TAG—implement programs for and with key populations. However, much of the content of the toolkit is relevant globally, and it is up to each implementer to determine whether a specific practice, recommendation, or resource is appropriate for their setting. 

 

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