COVID-19 and HIV: 1 moment, 2 epidemics, 3 opportunities—how to seize the moment to learn, leverage and build a new way forward for everyone’s health and rights

Front cover of report with report title


The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the inadequacy of investments in public health, the persistence of profound economic and social inequalities and the fragility of many key global systems and approaches.

Given the epic dimensions of the emergency, the world needs unity and solidarity—led by a large-scale, coordinated and comprehensive health response, and a focus on the needs of developing countries. Our decades-long fight against HIV offers essential lessons.

This new report by UNAIDS examines how the experience of tackling HIV can help inform and guide effective, efficient, people-centred and sustainable COVID-19 responses. In fighting HIV, the world was confronted with a new, serious and multifaceted health crisis. Successful international efforts were rooted in a focus on innovation, respect for human rights and gender equality, community-based solutions and a commitment to leave no one behind.

Decades of investment in the HIV response have created platforms that are proving useful in battling COVID-19—just as they were in responding to the 2014–2015 Ebola outbreak in western and central Africa. By being smart and strategic, we can leverage the HIV infrastructure to accelerate COVID-19 responses. Just as we must use the COVID-19 response to reimagine economies and institutions to be more fair and inclusive, we must also reimagine health systems to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.

By heeding the lessons of the HIV response, COVID-19 action can be people-centred, flexible, innovative, equitable and outcome-driven. By working together, we can ensure that national health responses deliver on the promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the health and wellbeing of all.

United Nations Secretary-General

September 9, 2020
Year of publication
Resource types
Reports and Fact sheets
pandemics, COVID-19, HIV, Lessons Learned

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