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PEPFAR, Gates Foundation and Nike Foundation Partner to Reduce New HIV Infections in Adolescent Girls and Young Women

The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Nike Foundation Partner on $210 Million Initiative to Reduce New HIV Infections in Adolescent Girls and Young Women

On 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, over 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, 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.”

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About PEPFAR

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.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and 16 Days of Activism

Press Statement

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
November 25, 2014

 

Today, we mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and the start of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. Over the next two weeks, U.S. embassies and missions around the world will all be working to raise awareness of the irreparable harm caused by gender-based violence.

This issue is seared into me. As a young prosecutor, I saw women and young girls whose lives and families were ripped apart by violence. I will never forget seeing women in dark glasses and long-sleeved shirts worn to cover up the black eyes and bruises of abuse. I couldn’t help but think about them as my two daughters went out into the world. As a Senator, working with Joe Biden and Cathy Russell, long before any of us were in the Administration, I helped pass the Violence Against Women Act.

In recent years, I’ve seen firsthand how much work remains to be done all across the globe, not just here at home. I saw it as a Senator, and I’ve seen it even more as Secretary. On my latest visit to Africa, while in Kinshasa, I toured a fistula clinic at St. Joseph’s Hospital. I spoke with doctors and activists alike who have devoted their life’s work to healing the scars left by sexual violence. And I listened to young women tell heartbreaking stories of their pain and ongoing recovery from the physical and emotional wounds left by their brutal assaults. These women were brave; they were extraordinarily strong. I came away inspired by their determination to make sure that no woman goes through the same ordeal as they did ever again.

Simply put, we must all do more to end violence against women in all its forms, wherever and whenever it occurs, and it starts by acknowledging it. There can be no conspiracy of silence.

The sad truth is that one in three women will experience gender-based violence in her lifetime. This violence knows no class, religious, or racial boundaries. And it comes at a terrible cost – not only for the woman or girl, but for families, communities, and entire countries. Preventing it is the only way to achieve a future of peace, stability, and prosperity.

Over the past year, the United States has worked to up our game battling gender-based violence across the globe. Through our Gender-based Violence Emergency Response and Protection Initiative, we help meet the immediate security needs of survivors. The Safe from the Start initiative is sending experts into the field to prevent gender-based violence in conflict zones and regions devastated by natural disasters. We are also working to address the scourge of early and forced marriage, most recently launching a program in Benin. And this past summer, I was proud to launch our partnership with Together for Girls to collect data on the consequences of sexual violence against children and provide a foundation to mobilize responses to new outbreaks of violence.

We will not turn away in the face of evil and brutality. We stand up, and we reaffirm that sexual violence will be not be tolerated. Not now, not ever.

Video: Joining Forces to End Child Marriage

As part of a series of initiatives focused on empowering and protecting women and girls, the U.S. Mission partnered with the World Young Women’s Christian Association (World WYCA) for an event focused on the fight against Child, Early, and Forced Marriage. The working discussion was hosted by Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto, who emphasized the human rights aspects of an issue she said was “more accurately described as abuse and exploitation of innocent victims, not marriage.” In opening remarks, World WYCA Secretary General Nyaradzayi Gumbondzvanda lamented that, every day, 39,000 girls are forced into an early marriage, thereby deprived of any autonomy in deciding the most intimate and personal aspects of their lives. During the working-group discussions that followed, participants addressed the various dimensions of both the problem and potential ways of combatting it – community activism, education, government policy, how to enlist men into the struggle at the grass roots, the link between economic development and female autonomy, and more.