Other Key populations

Young People

An estimated 25 per cent of the 38.6 million people infected with HIV are between 15-24 years of age, and half of all new HIV infections worldwide are among young people.

UNODC makes a point of involving young people themselves. As the lead agency within the UNAIDS family for HIV/AIDS prevention and care among people who use drugs and in prisons, UNODC, in collaboration with its partners, is helping to develop youth-friendly HIV/AIDS prevention and care strategies and services. These are evidence-informed and address the special needs of the most at-risk young people such as those who inject drugs, juvenile prisoners and potential and people vulnerable to human trafficking.

Young people are at the very centre of the epidemic. In some parts of the world, and in some marginalized sub-groups, the most frequent modes of HIV transmission for these young people are unsafe injecting drug use and unsafe sexual activities. Lack of awareness about how HIV is spread and lack of access to appropriate HIV prevention services contribute to the spread of HIV among these most at-risk groups of young people.

Together with other sister UN agencies and civil society partners, UNODC makes a point of involving young people themselves in developing and implementing youth friendly HIV/AIDS prevention and care services at the country level.


More women throughout the world are becoming infected with HIV. While most HIV transmission among women occurs from unprotected sexual activities, there is evidence that the link to unsafe drug injecting practices is on the rise. Although the number of women who use drugs involved in sex work is small compared to the total number of sex workers or drug injectors, they contribute disproportionately to the HIV/AIDS epidemics. Similarly, the number of women in prisons is lower than the number of men, but the prevalence of drug use among women in prison is higher than among men. Injecting drug use and HIV seem to be particularly prevalent in the female prison populations. One of the main reasons that HIV/AIDS prevention and care services are not reaching these particularly vulnerable groups of women is that most services are designed for men. Attempts to reach and work with women who inject drugs and female prisoners are limited and, in fact, services addressing the specific needs of women hardly exist in most countries.

UNODC is, therefore, working on developing a set of strategies that will help countries to understand and address the gender dimensions of HIV/AIDS prevention and care policies and programmes, particularly in the context of injecting drug use, prison settings and trafficking in persons.

The goal of UNODC's gender and HIV/AIDS work is to ensure equitable access to HIV/AIDS prevention and care services; to improve quality of care by identifying and integrating gender-sensitive indicators; and to introduce comprehensive interventions to address gender-based violence and the gender dimensions of stigma and discrimination.