Are KPs Really Important?

According to Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Key populations (KPs) are defined groups who, due to specific higher-risk behaviors, are at increased risk of HIV, irrespective of the epidemic type or local context. Also, they often have legal and social issues related to their behaviors that increase their vulnerability to HIV. The key populations are important to the dynamics of HIV transmission. They also are essential partners in an effective response to the epidemic.

KPs include; female sex workers (FSW), men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender people (TG), people who inject drugs(PWID), and people in prisons and other enclosed settings. Unfortunately, in society, these sets of individuals suffer a lot of stigmatization and discrimination from people, probably, due to a lack of appropriate orientation and awareness in society of inclusiveness as a right for every living individual. In a bid to curtail the spread of HIV as well as a reduction in the risks associated with the viral disease, all hands must be on the desk in order to achieve this common goal. Many organizations have been trying to involve and sustain the KPs in their intervention programs, a notable example is the United States Agen cy for International Development (USAID), they were able to develop a comprehensive package of services and approaches through a range of early interventions. The comprehensive package comes from the WHO global key population guidelines, which serve as the standard for all international HIV implementation and guide national government policy and planning. The comprehensive package involved; Health Interventions (condom and lubricant programming, harm reduction interventions, behavioral interventions, HIV testing and counseling, HIV treatment, and care + PrEP, prevention and management of viral Hep, TB, and mental health conditions, sexual and reproductive health interventions). Structural Interventions (supportive legislation, policy, and funding, addressing stigma and discrimination, community empowerment, addressing violence). Through these interventions, in 2021, more than 100,000 members of key populations learned of their HIV-positive status through USAID support, and more than 100,000 (97%) members of key populations were linked to treatment (independent of the PEPFAR agency supporting the ART site), including 72,795 new clients who were linked to treatment (65%) within USAID programs, and today USAID supports community treatment initiation for key populations in 37 countries.

The achievements above buttress the importance of the inclusiveness of KPs in society. As individuals, we really need to understand the circumstances that might have driven the various persons into the category of KPs, with that, we would be able to do away with discrimination and victimizing such individuals.

Back to the main question, are KPs really important? Yes, they are very important!

To effectively control the spread of HIV/AIDS, they are key and important clients to treat and sensitize as they are more vulnerable than the general population, a successful suppression rate amongst them is vital for the goal of achieving an AIDS-free society. Not only should they have easy access to healthcare intervention, they should also be included in the key sectors of society, as they also have great potentials to help steer society towards a better future.