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Key affected populations, HIV and AIDS

People who belong to key affected populations (KAPs) are people who, for one reason or another, are more vulnerable to HIV infection.

This could be because they engage in high-risk behaviours such as injecting drugs, or because they are marginalised by society and fearful of accessing HIV services.

An effective response to the HIV epidemic requires that these groups are targeted by HIV prevention programmes with information and services that are specific to them.

Next full review: 
14 February 2020


Two men holding hands
Homosexual acts are illegal in more than a third of countries, preventing men who have sex with men (MSM) from accessing HIV services.
13% of all people who inject drugs are living with HIV. People who inject drugs are repeatedly denied access to harm reduction programmes.
Sex workers are 12 times more likely to be living with HIV than the general population and are difficult for HIV services to reach.
Incarceration increases HIV vulnerability, especially when prisoners engage in high risk behaviours like injecting drugs.
Being transgender is strongly associated with stigma and discrimination. They also lack access to tailored HIV services.
Women are often vulnerable to HIV due to unequal gender relations which affects their ability to negotiate condom use.
240,000 children became infected with HIV in 2013, the majority of which were from mother-to-child during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Young people are a priority for HIV prevention messages because it’s most effective to change behaviour before sexual debut.

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Last updated:
16 March 2017
Next full review:
14 February 2020