Adolescent Girls & Women
Adolescent Girls & Women: Creating Gender Equity
Young women are facing a triple threat. They are at high risk of HIV infection, have low rates of HIV testing, and have poor adherence to treatment. The world is failing young women and we urgently need to do more.
—Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS
- Every day, around 1,000 adolescent girls and young women are infected with HIV.
- Girls account for 74% of new HIV infections among adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa.
- In fiscal year 2016, PEPFAR supported HIV testing and counseling for more than 11.5 million pregnant women.
- Girls who experience violence are up to three times more likely to be infected with HIV.
No greater action is needed right now to control the HIV/AIDS epidemic than empowering adolescent girls and young women.
Due to the Millennium Development Goals’ success at reducing child mortality by over 50 percent as well as continued high fertility rates, significantly larger numbers of young women who survived childhood are now entering their most vulnerable years for HIV infection, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2016, 360,000 adolescent girls and young women were infected with HIV – almost 1,000 a day.
Many factors make girls and young women particularly vulnerable to HIV, including gender-based violence, exclusion from economic opportunities, and a lack of access to secondary school. Ninety-eight million girls around the world are not in school, yet we know that a girl who has a basic education is three times less likely to contract HIV.
Based on targets set in September 2015, PEPFAR aims to reduce new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women by 40 percent in the highest HIV-burdened areas of 10 sub-Saharan African countries by the end of 2017.
This marked the first time the U.S. government has ever set specific targets for preventing new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women, underscoring the U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls. Our targets also are part of PEPFAR’s Contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals.
Empowering Adolescent Girls and Young Women to Achieve Their DREAMS
PEPFAR, in collaboration with private sector partners – the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Girl Effect, Johnson & Johnson, Gilead Sciences, and ViiV Healthcare – is driving the ambitious DREAMS Partnership to help girls develop into Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe women.
The goal of DREAMS is to deliver on bold U.S. targets by supporting a multi-sectoral core package of interventions that goes beyond the health sector, addressing the structural drivers that directly and indirectly increase girls’ HIV risk, including poverty, gender inequality, sexual violence, and lack of education.
Since its launch, DREAMS has reached over 1 million adolescent girls and young women with critical comprehensive HIV prevention in high-burden geographic areas to reduce their risk of HIV infection, help them to know their HIV status, and ultimately prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.
To increase the effectiveness of DREAMS efforts, PEPFAR is investing to reach more men with HIV treatment and voluntary medical male circumcision for HIV prevention, targeting the same districts with high HIV burdens where we have DREAMS programming. Unless more men access and adhere to HIV prevention and treatment services, we are only confronting half of the crisis.
The DREAMS Innovation Challenge
To complement the DREAMS Partnership, the DREAMS Innovation Challenge was launched to build upon existing evidence-based approaches and infuse additional resources and innovative ideas to better meet the urgent and complex needs of adolescent girls and young women in sub-Saharan Africa.
PEPFAR, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV (a Johnson & Johnson company), and ViiV Healthcare have committed $85 million to support solutions that address unmet needs not covered by the DREAMS Core Package of interventions. The DREAMS Innovation Challenge has awarded funding to 56 organizations chosen from 10 sub-Sarahan African countries to create change and increase impact in six critical focus areas that will reduce new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women.
Ending Violence, Ending AIDS
Gender-based violence is not only a violation of human rights, but also fosters the spread of HIV/AIDS by limiting one’s ability to negotiate safe sexual practices, disclose HIV status, and access services due to fear of reprisal.
Women and girls are disproportionately affected by violence, and an estimated one in three women worldwide has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. PEPFAR-supported Violence Against Children surveys (VACs) have helped raise awareness about the nature and magnitude of child abuse.
These surveys, which have been conducted in 11 countries, found that an average of one in three young women reported their first sexual experience as forced or coerced. Based on these and other data, PEPFAR supports programs that respond to the complexities of childhood violence. PEPFAR also works with governments to develop and implement national, multi-sectoral plans that address maltreatment and sexual abuse.
Increased risk of negative health conditions associated with exposure to childhood sexual violence reported by females 13-24
|Negative Health Conditions||Risk|
Harnessing the Data Revolution to Reach Women and Girls
The PEPFAR Dashboards disaggregate data by sex, age, and geography, helping target and tailor PEPFAR’s efforts to reach those most in need. These data are critical to supporting adolescent girls and young women, who in some countries are up to three times more likely to have HIV than their male peers.
PEPFAR is a partner of Data2X, a collaborative platform for gender data. The partnership is working with the United Nations Development Program and others to build a global technical standard to harmonize gender results reporting, increase the use and visualization of sex- and age- disaggregated data, and train partners on decision-making with gender results data.
PEPFAR has publicly opened our data, leading by example to drive greater program efficiency, transparency, coordination, and mutual accountability. With the PEPFAR Dashboards, you can explore PEPFAR's global investments and achievements in responding to the HIV epidemic. Take a look at the slideshow below to learn more about how PEPFAR is making an impact in the global HIV response.
Partnerships and Initiatives
- For featured stories and news prior to Jan. 20, 2017, please see https://2009-2017.pepfar.gov/priorities/girlswomen/index.htm.
- Adolescent Girls and Young Women Fact Sheet
- Presentation Slide Deck: Adolescent Girls and Young Women
- DREAMS Fact Sheet
- DREAMS Innovation Challenge Fact Sheet
- DREAMS Country Fact Sheets
- Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS-Free
- Orphans and Vulnerable Children Fact Sheet
- PEPFAR Prevention and Treatment Targets Infographic