Adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) in sub-Saharan Africa bear an exceptionally large share of the HIV burden, and it is critical that this age and sex disparity be remedied to achieve an AIDS-free generation. Evidence-based, tailored interventions are needed to reach the most vulnerable girls and women and address their diverse, unique needs. The U. S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)-led DREAMS (Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe) Initiative is a partnership that aims to reduce HIV among AGYW in 10 countries through a combination of programs that seeks to address the many social and structural barriers that place AGYW at elevated HIV risk.
Project SOAR is conducting a program of capacity-strengthening support for implementing organizations working with AGYW in five countries: Botswana, Cote d’Ivoire, Haiti, Namibia, and Rwanda. In these countries, PEPFAR Country Operation Plans include “DREAMS-like” programming to reach and empower AGYW to avoid HIV. SOAR is training partners on the intentional design of girl-centered programs, which entails collecting critical information about AGYW in catchment areas and learning which segments are ‘on track’ to a safe transition to adulthood and which are ‘off track.’ We are working with selected implementers as they begin the process of intentionally designing and delivering programs to build AGYW’s social and other protective assets. To strengthen implementing partners’ capacity, SOAR is hosting webinars and workshops for a selection of implementing partners that work directly with AGYW groups and other DREAMS stakeholders.
These capacity-strengthening efforts will help implementing partners improve targeting and enhance impact, enabling more AGYW at high risk of HIV infection to reduce their risk.