Reducing HIV infection among Adolescent Girls & Young Women of South Africa
Girls and young women account for over 70 percent of new HIV infections among adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa, and nearly 1,000 adolescent girls and young women are infected with HIV every day. It is a fact that adolescent girls and young women are at higher risk of HIV infection for a range of biological and socioeconomic reasons, including poverty, gender inequality and limited access to youth-friendly health services.
The DREAMS Initiative for Adolescent Girls and Young Women program is an ambitious partnership to reduce HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women in 10 sub-Saharan African countries and South Africa is part of. Through Dreams Initiative, Humana People to People in South Africa is aiming to reduce HIV infection among Adolescent Girls and Young Women of South Africa and is currently being implemented in KwaZulu Natal province. Funded by FHI360, the program targets girls whose age group falls in the bracket of 10 – 19 years and young women and their male sexual partners between the ages of 20 – 24 years, including males that are sexually active aged 25 – 49 years.
The goal of DREAMS is to help girls develop into Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe women. Humana People to People’s main focus in this program is to empower Girls and Young Women with tools that they can use to prevent HIV infection and also to be able to protect their selves. Activities are carried out reaching men with the objective of reducing the risk of male sex partners infecting the adolescent girls and young women with HIV. Campaigns, based on avoiding HIV contraction and stopping the spread of HIV, are carried out through providing basic HIV Counseling and Testing Services, condom promotion and provision. Again in this program, strengthening health linkages and referrals remain a top priority.
The DREAMS Initiative for Adolescent Girls and Young Women program is part of a larger Humana People to People program called Total Control of the Epidemic (TCE), a systematic community mobilization drive against HIV, AIDS and TB. TCE targets communities with door-to-door campaigns, raising awareness, providing counseling, making referrals, distributing condoms, promoting male medical circumcision (MMC), encouraging pregnant women to attend prevention of mother-to-child transmission programs (PMTCT), home-based testing and collaborating with local health structures to combat the spread of HIV, AIDS and TB.
Social isolation, economic disadvantage, discriminatory cultural norms, orphanhood, gender-based violence, and school drop-out all contribute to girls’ vulnerability to HIV. The DREAMS initiative goes beyond health to address these factors – a key to reaching the Sustainable Development Goal of ending AIDS by 2030.
TCE Field Officers contribute in many ways to Humana People to People South Africa’s progress towards achieving these goals. The following overview highlights some of the key activities according to the implementation plan of the DREAMS program objectives:
- Door-to-door (Systematic Home Based Testing)
TCE Field Officers conduct door to door campaigns, to reach people in their respective homes with the information on HIV.
- Workplace Program
TCE Field Officers also visit various workplaces to ensure that all the people are reached with HIV and AIDS information and receive HIV counseling and testing.
Mobile services are provided in areas where Humana People to People South Africa can access a high number of Multiple Sexual Partners and Adolescent Girls and Young Women. These areas are identified by the field officers. The targeted population is also reached during events and campaigns.
“DREAMS is a blueprint of hope. If we prevent new HIV infections among young women and girls, we can reduce new HIV infections globally by 90%. All the girls here have dreams and I have a dream too—that we keep our young girls safe and aids-free.” Deborah Birx, United States Global AIDS coordinator
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