28 NOVEMBER 2023 - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has awarded US$1 million in new grants to key population-led organizations working to counter discriminatory laws, policies and practices and HIV-related criminalization, which hinder access to HIV services. With recipients across 16 countries, the grants aim to advance the work of these organizations by strengthening key population leadership, expanding partnerships and increasing solidarity among communities at local, national and regional levels. 

The grants have been awarded through the SCALE initiative, a UNDP-led partnership that aims to accelerate the removal of structural barriers to HIV services by scaling up key population-led efforts to drive progress on the historic 10-10-10 HIV targets. The targets call for transformative action to reduce stigma and discrimination and remove punitive laws and policies impacting people living with HIV and other key populations. Despite all countries committing to the 10-10-10 targets as part of the 2021 High-level Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS, currently no country is on track to achieve them. 

The SCALE Initiative grants are supporting organizations through a wide range of projects, led by and for key populations, all recognizing the often-intersectional nature of marginalization. This includes people living with HIV, gay men and other who have sex with men (MSM), transgender people, sex workers and people who use drugs. 

The diversity of the grants illustrates that there is no set pathway to the removal of structural barriers, with each community employing different tactics and strategies depending on their unique set of local circumstances. From increasing the participation of LGBTQ+ persons in constitutional reform processes in Jamaica and supporting key population youth leaders to improve service uptake among young MSM and transgender communities in the Philippines, to protecting and promoting the human rights of sex workers in South Africa and creating a network of shelters for women who use drugs and survivors of gender-based violence in Kazakhstan, the grants will be implemented through August, 2024. 

“Stigma, discrimination and criminalization undermine the global HIV response and deny people their fundamental rights. The SCALE Initiative grants will help strengthen and scale up the essential work of key population-led organizations, ensuring that communities are supported to take charge and challenge inequities. While we must let communities lead, UNDP stands firm as a partner for countries and communities to accelerate progress on the 10-10-10 targets and help deliver on the promise to leave no one behind,” stated Mandeep Dhaliwal, Director of the HIV and Health Group, UNDP. 

The SCALE Initiative is committed to advancing an equitable global response to HIV that empowers communities and leaves no one behind. All grantees are key population-led organizations, meaning their leadership includes key population community members and people living with HIV, and key populations and people living with HIV are directly involved in the development and implementation of grants.  

“I am incredibly inspired by the leadership demonstrated across the grantees. Despite shrinking civic space and criminalization targeting already marginalized communities, people living with HIV and key populations are not just staying resilient – we are finding ways forward. But law reform cannot be taken for granted. We must continue to invest in the next generation of leaders who are paving the way for a future defined by human rights and health for all. Communities have always been and remain at the heart of the HIV response, and these grantees give me hope that we are in good hands,” said Michael Akanji, Co-Ordinator of the African Key Populations Experts Group (AKPEG), member of the SCALE Initiative Africa Regional Working Group and Africa Grant Technical Review Committee. 

A second round of grants is currently under review and will be announced soon.

Meet the 2023 SCALE grantees:  



  • Angola - Associação Acção Humana (Human Action Association), Associação IRIS Angola, (IRIS Association), Arquivo de Identidade Angolano (Angolan Identity Archive)

  • Cameroon - Association Affirmative Action, Positive Vision, Humanity First Cameroon Plus 

  • Côte d'Ivoire - Association Communautaire Paroles autour de la Santé 

  • Eswatini - Health Plus 4 Men, The Rock of Hope 

  • Namibia - Diversity LGBTITQ Human Rights and Advocacy Association of Namibia, Out-Right Namibia, Rainbow Reflections of Namibia 

  • South Africa - Sisonke National Movement, The Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT), Access Chapter 2 

  • Zambia - The Lotus Identify, Latu Human Rights Foundation  


  • Nepal – Recovering Nepal, Blue Diamond Society, SPARSHA Nepal, National Association of PLWHA (NAP+N) 

  • Philippines - Cebu United Rainbow LGBTIQ+ Sector (CURLS), TLF SHARE Collective, Philippine Anti-Discrimination Alliance of Youth Leaders (PANTAY) 

  • Thailand - SWING Foundation  


  • Kazakhstan – Answer, Revanche «Реванш», in consortium with My Home «Центр развития и социальной помощи населению «Мой дом», Nursenim «Нұрсенім» and Fund of Women Living with HIV «Фонд женщин, живущих с ВИЧ» 

  • Kyrgyzstan - Tais Plus «Таис Плюс», Attika «Аттика» 

  • Tajikistan - SPIN Plus «СПИН Плюс» 


  • Jamaica - Equality for All Foundation 

  • Guyana - Proud to Be Trans and Guyana Trans United 

  • Panama - Fundación Iguales  

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