UNAIDS is deeply concerned by reports that the COVID-19 epidemic is being used as an excuse to target marginalized and vulnerable populations, restrict civil society space and increase police powers. In particular, UNAIDS is extremely concerned by reports of new laws that restrict rights and freedoms and target criminalized groups in a manner that will harm the rights and health of people living with or vulnerable to HIV. “In times of crisis, emergency powers and agility are crucial; however, they cannot come at the cost of the rights of the most vulnerable,” said Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “Checks and balances that are the cornerstone of the rule of law must be exercised in order to prevent misuse of such powers. If not, we may see a reversal of much of the progress made in human rights, the right to health and the AIDS response.” Experience from past and present epidemics shows clearly that an effective response to health crises such as COVID-19 must be deeply rooted in trust, human solidarity and unwavering respect for human rights.