On Dec. 1, World AIDS Day, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Nike Foundation launched a new initiative to significantly reduce new HIV infections in adolescent girls and young women.
Adolescent girls are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. In 2013, more than 80 percent of new HIV infections among adolescents in the hardest hit countries occurred in girls. Every year, an astonishing 380,000 adolescent girls and young women are infected with HIV.
“Adolescent girls and young women are particularly vulnerable to HIV infection and prevention efforts to date have not had the impact we need,” said Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, M.D., U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator. “Almost 60 percent of all new HIV infections among young people aged 15–24 occurred among adolescent girls and young women. We also know that in sub-Saharan Africa, adolescent girls and young women are more likely than their male counterparts to be living with HIV. The time to act is now, and the PEPFAR, Gates Foundation and the Nike Foundation partnership will play a pivotal role in scaling up effective interventions that will save lives.”
The partnership will provide a core package of evidence-based interventions that have successfully addressed HIV risk behaviors, HIV transmission and gender-based violence. Evidence shows that girls can reach their full potential when they have access to multiple interventions and when girls are perceived as capable and full of potential — by girls themselves and in the communities where they live. This DREAMS partnership aims to ensure that girls have an opportunity to live Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe lives.
“A girl may be in school, but HIV, child marriage or economic shock to her family could prevent her from continuing. We need to understand and measure how to better address these and other interlocking threats to her success,” said Maria Eitel, President and CEO of the Nike Foundation. “This bold initiative, will combine interventions that when delivered together, in addition to challenging and changing perceptions and norms, will transform a girl’s life and accelerate efforts to achieve an AIDS-free future for girls.”
The combination intervention approach for reaching adolescent girls and young women has the potential to advance multiple health and development goals including dramatically reducing HIV incidence. The emphasis on evidence and results, in addition to the close alignment with PEPFAR’s objectives, positions this partnership for significant impact on the lives of adolescent girls and young women in sub-Saharan Africa.
“The world has made huge progress on HIV, but we have to find better ways to accelerate efforts for adolescent girls and young women—who are twice as likely to be infected in some countries,” said Melinda Gates, Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We’ve made a commitment at the Gates Foundation to address this inequality. This partnership will advance our shared goal of getting life-saving HIV prevention and treatment services to the women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa who need them most.”
The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is the U.S. government initiative to save the lives of those affected by HIV/AIDS around the world. This historic commitment is the largest by any nation to combat a single disease internationally, and PEPFAR investments also help alleviate suffering from other diseases across the global health spectrum. PEPFAR is driven by a shared responsibility among donor and partner nations and others to make smart investments to save lives. For more information about PEPFAR, visit www.PEPFAR.gov, www.twitter.com/PEPFAR, or www.facebook.com/PEPFAR.
About the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation partners with organizations worldwide to tackle critical problems in four program areas. The Global Development Division works to help the world’s poorest people lift themselves out of hunger and poverty. The Global Health Division aims to harness advances in science and technology to save lives in developing countries. The United States Division works to improve U.S. high school and postsecondary education and support vulnerable children and families in Washington Sate. And the Global Policy & Advocacy Division seeks to build strategic relationships and promote policies that will help advance the foundation’s work. The foundation’s approach to grantmaking in all four areas emphasizes collaboration, innovation, risk-taking, and, most importantly, results.