Bridging the Gaps

Bridging the Gaps


Bridging the Gaps – an alliance of nine international organisations and networks and more than 80 local and regional organisations in 15 countries – concluded activities in December 2020, after ten years of programming. From 2011 until 2020, we made significant contributions towards ending the AIDS epidemic among sex workers, people who use drugs and LGBT people around the world. The programme worked towards a society where key populations are empowered, their human rights are respected and they have access to quality services tailored to their needs.

Partnership details

Time frame
01 January 2016 - 31 December 2020
€ 49,985,000
Active in
Botswana, Georgia, Indonesia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mozambique, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, South Africa, Tajikistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Vietnam, Zimbabwe


The Bridging the Gaps approach:

Key populations in the driver’s seat
The most effective HIV programming involves key populations in all levels of decision-making, as confirmed by the World Health Organization in its ‘Consolidated guidelines on HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care for key populations’. This is why key population communities were firmly in the driver’s seat of the Bridging the Gaps programme at all levels, from governance to implementation.

Linking human rights and health
Drug use, sex work and non-conforming sexual orientation or gender identity are stigmatised and criminalised in many countries. As a result, HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services and other sexual and reproductive health services are less accessible for these key populations. This causes them to be disproportionally affected by HIV and AIDS compared to the general population.

Linking key populations
Through the sharing of best practices, lessons learnt and advocacy tools, and the piloting of joint solutions with our regional and country partners, Bridging the Gaps addressed the common challenges faced by sex workers, LGBT people and PWUD in accessing HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.

Linking in-country community level work with global advocacy
Global policy changes need to be fuelled from the ground up. Civil society organisations can only scale up advocacy initiatives and service provision when structural and policy barriers are addressed and removed.

Community groups

Bridging the Gaps (2011-2020) was an SRHR and HIV programme that worked with the following key population groups: sex workers, people who use drugs, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.


Sex workers, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and people who use drugs (PWUD) are significantly more vulnerable to HIV infection than the general population. More than 45% of new HIV infections occur among key populations, yet in most countries they have the least access to prevention, treatment and care. The Bridging the Gaps programme worked to increase access to essential HIV services for key populations, and strengthen their capacity to hold governments accountable while contributing to the full realisation of their human rights.

Sex workers , lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and people who use drugs are typically 10 to 20 times more likely to become infected by HIV while only 8% have access to HIV services. The denial of human rights has a negative impact on their health.

10 years of the Bridging the Gaps Alliance

After nearly ten years, our unique Bridging the Gaps alliance is coming to a close. Countless organisations, networks and people have relentlessly been working towards a world where sex workers, people who use drugs, LGBT people and people living with HIV can enjoy their human rights and access quality HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. On this page, the 9 Bridging the Gaps Alliance partners share key results and learnings that represent the ‘heritage’ of the alliance.

10 year of Bridging the Gaps

2020 Bridging the Gaps Annual Report

In 2020, the COVID-19 global pandemic profoundly changed the landscape of the HIV sector and greatly impeded global efforts to end AIDS by 2030. This report presents the key results and changes achieved by Bridging the Gaps in 2020. It shares achievements under each of the programme’s long-term goals, as well as the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ results framework, illustrated by examples and stories of change. The report closes by sharing the alliance’s reflections on Bridging the Gaps Phase II, which spanned the programme’s last five years.

HOYMAS awareness session

Study: Funding for key populations affected by HIV and AIDS “way off track”

Funding for key populations affected by HIV and AIDS “way off track” with only 2% of money for HIV programmes targeting them. This is especially alarming as key populations and their partners account for more than half of all the new HIV infections globally. This first ever study into global funding for key populations, was released at the HIV2020 conference by Aidsfonds through the Bridging the Gaps and PITCH partnerships. 

Read the full news article and access the full report and factsheets by clicking the link.

Fast track, off track

Highlight: NGLHRC - Challenging the Constitutionality of Forced Anal Examinations in Kenya

In 2015 alone, 400 people were arrested in the city of Kisii and subjected to forced medical examinations, yet many LGBTQI persons that experienced forced anal testing did not report it. These practices cause severe injuries to the dignity and self-worth of many LGBTQI persons, and perpetuate stigma against LGBTQI persons. The National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) successfully challenged the constitutionality of forced anal examinations.

Track record case NGLHRC

Evaluation: Key findings from Bridging the Gaps'

Bridging the Gaps has demonstrated how effective community led responses can address gaps in service provision and enable people from key population communities to access quality, tailored health services. Bridging the Gaps’ advocacy work has strengthened the voice and influence of people from key populations in decision making spaces.

The Results So Far

Campaign: "Do The Math!"

The end of Bridging the Gaps does not mean investment in key populations is no longer needed. On the contrary, more than ever we need to make clear to donors and governments that HIV and AIDS are not over, and more, and better, funding for key population programmes remains necessary. 

Results So Far (2011-2020)

Working together, Bridging the Gaps increased access to essential HIV and other SRHR services for key populations; built strong movements; strengthened the capacities of community-led organisations to hold governments accountable; and contributed to the greater realisation of human rights for key populations.

Results So Far 2011 - 2020

Country & Regional Partners

These partners have made Bridging the Gaps’ contributions towards a world where sex workers, people who use drugs and LGBT people can enjoy their human rights and access quality HIV prevention, treatment and care, possible.


Capacity Development: Examining the Processes & Outcomes in a Global Health & Human Rights Programme

Over the period 2018-2019, HEARD conducted a study on capacity development within the context of the Bridging the Gaps programme to identify those interventions which effectively equip civil society organisations and networks led by or working with key population groups to secure their health and rights, and to advocate for social change in complex legal and socio-cultural environments.

Capacity development study HEARD

Toolkit: Effective Collaboration in Partnerships For Health & Human Rights

This toolkit aims to translate research into action and is a collection of exercises to establish, foster and improve collaborations in partnerships for health and human rights. The exercises are all based on existing tools, and are tested and adapted based on experiences within Bridging the Gaps. The toolkit was developed by the University of Amsterdam together with Aidsfonds, Alliance partners, and tested and adapted during a pilot in Kenya in November 2017 and in Kyrgyzstan in March 2018.

Outreach work in Kyrgyzstan

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