AHF’s Campaign to Fight HIV Amongst Young Women and Girls (GIRLS ACT) Heads to South Africa, Nigeria & Kenya

Healthcare Foundation
, Africa
will launch its campaign to fight HIV amongst young women and
girls aged 15-24 in South Africa and Nigeria on the 25th and
in Kenya on the 29th of November. This is coming after a
successful launch of the same campaign in Uganda about 3 weeks ago.

The campaign dubbed Girls’ ACT (Awareness Campaign Tour)
is largely informed by the compelling fact that young women and
adolescent girls account for one in five new HIV infections in Africa
and are almost three times more likely than their male counterparts to
be living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. This is highlighted in the
2013 report of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS),
which states that almost 60% of all new HIV infections among young
people aged 15–24 occurred among adolescent girls and young women and
80% of them live in sub-Saharan Africa. “These statistics spotlights
the disproportion that young women and girls face in the HIV/AIDS
epidemic and begs for more strategic and relatable approaches,” said Dr.
Adetayo Towolawi, Country Program Manager, AHF Nigeria.
“It is
therefore imperative that we reach out to these young women and girls in
an aggressive manner, leaving no stone unturned and no one behind.”

Girls’ ACT, is a multi-institutional drive that primarily aims to; a)
scale up HIV/AIDS prevention services in order to curb new HIV
infections amongst this population sub-group, and b) ensure that young
people living with HIV are enrolled and retained in HIV care for
improved health outcomes. “To achieve this, AHF is working together
with partners from government, civil society and business, to offer a
range of health services including HIV and TB tests, Sexual reproductive
health, menstrual health and self-esteem, counseling on gender-based
violence, and pro-bono legal services for victims of violation or
abuse,” added Hilary Thulare, Country Program Director, AHF South
“Together we can empower our communities to ACT against HIV
and sexual violence and promote positive living with dignity amongst
young women and adolescent girls.”

“Our safe space programs and interactions with young people in Kenya,
has given us a great opportunity to understand the needs of young women
and girls better, and insights on how best to support them,” said Dr.
Wamae Maranga, Country Director, AHF Kenya
. “Majority of the
girls do not visit health facilities for various reasons, and those
living with HIV continue to struggle with self-esteem issues and stigma,
which negatively impact their health. Therefore, if we want to get
different results, we must do things differently and that is where an
out-of-the-box initiative such as the GIRLS ACT comes to bare.”

The GIRLS ACT campaign, which takes the form of a concert-like caravan,
aims to bring services closer to communities, targeting young women and
adolescent girls from all walks of life, different socioeconomic
groupings and dwellings. However, their male counterparts and the
general community as key gatekeepers for young girls’ protection will
also benefit by accessing HIV/AIDS related information & services as
well as other connect services.

Young women and girls are a major focus for us at AHF right now. We
want to see them live healthy lives and make informed decisions about
their health, so we can break the cycle of new infections,”
said Terri
Ford, Chief of Global advocacy and Policy
. “We cannot afford to
be complacent about this and
to see how the GIRLS ACT has gained
so much buy-in and huge followership, is proof that we need young people
at the heart of these interventions. We have to keep them alive and well”

Speaking on the success of the campaign in Uganda, AHF Africa Bureau
Chief, Dr. Penninah Iutung
shared thus At the Uganda
launch, Girls ACT was well received by stakeholders and partners alike;
who have committed to working with us on this project as we move to more
districts.” Beyond the strengthened partnerships, the most significant
and remarkable outcome from the launch was witnessing young women and
girls who had fallen out of treatment, get re-enrolled. That was an
absolute indication that we are on the right track”. “We will continue
to work closely with young people across our country programs to see
what works best for them, in order to ensure they have access to the
much needed care and information,” she enthused.


Kemi Gbadamosi
Manager, PR & Communications, Africa Bureau

Regional Policy & Advocacy Manager, E/W Africa

Regional Policy & Advocacy Manager, Southern Africa