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  • What is GIPA?

  • Why GIPA?

  • Policy Position

What is GIPA?

GIPA is not a project or programme. It is a principle that aims to realize the rights and responsibilities of people living with HIV, including their right to self-determination and participation in decision-making processes that affect their lives.

In these efforts, GIPA also aims to enhance the quality and effectiveness of the AIDS response.

The idea that personal experiences should shape the AIDS response was first voiced by people living with HIV in Denver in 1983.

The GIPA Principle was formalized at the 1994 Paris AIDS Summit when 42 countries agreed to “support a greater involvement of people living with HIV at all…levels…and to…stimulate the creation of supportive political, legal and social environments”.

In 2001, 189 United Nations member countries endorsed the GIPA Principle as part of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS.

The 2006 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS unanimously adopted by 192 Member States at the 2006 High Level Meeting on AIDS also advocated the greater involvement of people living with HIV.


People living with HIV have directly experienced the factors that make individuals and communities vulnerable to HIV infection—and once infected, the HIV-related illnesses and strategies for managing them. Their involvement in programme development and implementation and policy-making will improve the relevance, acceptability and effectiveness of programmes.


Measuring involvement of people living with HIV in policy is not an easy or exact science.


However, experiences have shown that when communities are proactively involved in ensuring their own well-being, success is more likely. GIPA seeks to ensure that people living with HIV are equal partners and breaks down simplistic (and false) assumptions of “service providers” (as those living without HIV) and “service receivers” (as those living with HIV).


The engagement of people living with HIV is all the more urgent as countries scale up their national AIDS responses to achieve the goal of universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support services.


The benefits of GIPA are wide ranging. At the individual level, involvement can improve self-esteem and boost morale, decrease isolation and depression, and improve health through access to better information about care and prevention. Within organizations, the participation of people living with HIV can change perceptions, as well as provide valuable experiences and knowledge. At  the community and social levels, public involvement of people living with HIV can break down fear and prejudice by showing the faces of people living with HIV and demonstrating that they are productive members of, and contributors to, society.


Openly acknowledging one’s HIV-positive status demolishes myths and misconceptions about HIV and people living with HIV. Disclosing one’s status can be an empowering process if it starts by combating internal stigma and shame. People living with HIV may need support in managing this process and choosing to whom, when and how they disclose their status. However, disclosure can also reinforce prejudices, for example, against homosexuals or based on race. GIPA does not require disclosing one’s HIV status to the public. It does not mean “no visibility = no involvement.” GIPA is about “meaningful involvement,” not tokenistic participation.



Policy Position


No single agency can provide for the full spectrum of needs of people living with HIV: partnerships between actors are therefore needed. To enable the active engagement of people living with HIV, UNAIDS urges all actors to ensure that people living with HIV have the space and the practical support for their greater and more meaningful involvement.


Governments, international agencies and civil society must:

  • set, implement and monitor minimum targets for the participation of people living with HIV, including women, young people and marginalized populations, in decision-making bodies. Selection processes should be inclusive, transparent and democratic; 


  • and involve people living with HIV in developing funding priorities and in the choice, design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of HIV programmes from their inception.

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