Despite substantial declines in new HIV infections globally, the HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to disproportionately impact adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) in many countries. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 67 percent of new HIV infections in young people occur in AGYW. Data show that AGYW are up to 14 times more likely to become HIV-infected than their male counterparts.
PEPFAR is responding to these alarming statistics, and the doubling of the youth population in sub-Saharan Africa to 200 million since 1990, by rapidly evolving and increasing our investment in AGYW. Through PEPFAR, the U.S. government invests nearly $2 billion annually in direct bilateral support for women and girls to be healthy and achieve their dreams in more than 50 countries globally.
PEPFAR empowers and protects women and girls across their entire life cycle. We prevent girls from HIV infection at birth, keep them HIV-free through their adolescence, support female orphans and vulnerable children and their female care-givers, and provide lifesaving treatment to HIV-positive women.
We also address key structural drivers of girls’ vulnerability – helping them stay in school, prevent sexual violence, and find economic opportunities. We screen HIV-positive women for cervical cancer, the leading form of cancer killing women in Sub-Saharan Africa. Perhaps most importantly, girls and young women are at the center of every effort, so they are meaningfully engaged on issues impacting their lives and able to reach their full potential.
Since 2015, PEPFAR’s flagship DREAMS public-private partnership, with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Girl Effect, Johnson & Johnson, Gilead Sciences, and ViiV Healthcare, has provided more than $800 million across 15 African and Caribbean countries for adolescent girls and women, enabling them to be Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-Free, Mentored, and Safe. The initiative has reduced HIV diagnoses among adolescent girls and young women by 25 percent or more in nearly all regions implementing DREAMS.