New research finds civil society space to end AIDS under threat

New research finds civil society space to end AIDS under threat

Achievements made in the fight to end the HIV and AIDS epidemic are at risk because of continuous attacks on basic civil liberties all around the world. It has become more and more difficult for civil society to reach out to people in need, says a new report by Aidsfonds, Frontline AIDS and CIVICUS. 


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Vulnerable groups like LGBTQI+ communities, particularly transgender people, are among the most commonly persecuted, and police and law enforcement authorities are among the main perpetrators, according to the report. 

The report, titled Activism and AIDS: protect civil society’s space to end the epidemic, launched on Friday July 10 during the 23rd International AIDS conference, examines the risks and restrictions facing civil society who are fighting to end the HIV and AIDS epidemic. The report was launched during a session at the conference, during which activists shared how new COVID-19 restrictions undermine their efforts to carry out their work on HIV and AIDS and further jeopardise the achievements towards ending AIDS by 2030. 


The success that we’ve made towards fulfilling the goal of ending AIDS by 2030 has only been achieved because civil society is able to reach the most marginalised communities

The report calls civil society’s response to the disease an “unparalleled example” of  “engagement and leadership”, with those living with HIV and AIDS having played “a vital role as advocates, as watchdogs and in the provision of services”. But governments and law enforcement agencies, among others, are making it difficult and dangerous for civil society to support people living with the disease. 


The diminishing space for civil society and an increasingly hostile political and social landscape herald an urgent international and regional call for action


The research, unique in its scope and breadth and the global human rights monitors involved, was conducted using the CIVICUS Monitor. The Monitor provides quantitative and qualitative data on the state of civil society and civic freedoms in countries around the world. The report covers trends from four diverse countries - Zimbabwe, Ukraine, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

Country findings

In Indonesia, activists and organisations were attacked online, had their social media content censored by authorities, had protests broken up even before they began, and had their offices raided, among other abuses, according to the report. 

In Ukraine, key populations including gay men and other men who have sex with men, sex workers and their clients, and transgender people have been targeted by influential religious figures. 


Shrinking space at international level

The report also finds that opposition to civic space is strengthening at international and regional levels, with one CSO representative saying that “voices are not heard at the UN”. The World Health Organization (WHO) was a “very closed space for civil society”, the report says, with a complex registration system for organisations. 


Watch the recording of the launch session during the 23rd International AIDS Conference


Activism on the road to end AIDS
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