Multidisciplinary Research on Poverty, Inequality and HIV and AIDS

The project is under the Plan of the Joint UN Team on AIDS in China.

The Chinese government has made remarkable progress on HIV response and implemented a series of HIV-related health services for people living with HIV, such as the “Four Free One Care” policy since 2004. However, HIV epidemic is still evolving and has been influencing the country more deeply in the past decade. Latest data shows that about 1.25 million people were living with HIV in China by the end of 2018 with more than half of them concentrating in the south central and western China where there is a long history of HIV epidemic and home to the majority of people living in poverty in this country.

Unemployment and underemployment, as the most common causes creating poverty in any economy, do not affect everyone equally. Often, they disproportionately affect members of marginalized groups, such as people living with HIV, in particular female PLHIV or LGBTI persons living with HIV. So far, the social protection mechanisms are not sensitive to ensure inclusive and sustainable development of PLHIV and their families, and the ARV treatment has been provided for free, however, the lifelong treatment has caused side effects and other subsequent illnesses, causing high proportion of out-of-pocket expenditure as well as high home-care burden for PLHIV’s family members. Moreover, gender-based inequality and age exclusion on accessing HIV services are still not well recognized and addressed in some places, in particular, discrimination against LGBTI people has affected their access to HIV-related care and services as well as their access to employment, leading to higher risks of poor health outcomes and economic hardships. In the context of the crisis such as COVID-19 pandemic and economic recession, PLHIV and their families are facing more challenges in employment and accessing and affording medical treatment, thus having higher risks to slip back into poverty.

The Joint UN Team on AIDS in China will work together to conduct a multi-disciplinary study to better understand the link between poverty, vulnerability, inequality and HIV and AIDS. The ILO’s study will focus on employment, livelihood and social protection.

Project objectives

The project will
  • Identify risk factors which put PLHIV into poverty from the perspectives of opportunities of employment, vocational skills, inclusiveness of the workplace, and social protection
  • Identify measures to be taken to improve employment among PLHIV in poverty

Project beneficiaries

The project’s ultimate beneficiaries are people living with HIV in poverty. The direct beneficiaries include the PLHIV community, and labour officials in identified provinces.

Project partners

China Labour Studies Institute MOHRSS and the Women’s Network against AIDS-China

For further information, please contact

Ms Wu Rulian
Programme Officer
ILO Country Office for China and Mongolia
Tel: +86 10 6532 5091