Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania are among 13 African countries that will receive US$55 million from the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, among adolescent girls and young women.
Tanzania will get US$8 million while Kenya and Uganda will receive US$5 million each, leaving the rest to the other countries, namely Botswana, Cameroon, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
‘We are at a pivotal moment for women and girls everywhere,’ said Heather Doyle, senior technical advisor on gender at the Global Fund.
‘In this environment, it is imperative that we demonstrate measurable progress in our work to target women and adolescent girls,’ added Dr. Doyle.
The Global Fund’s strategy embraces the UNAIDS Fast-Track target that by 2020, 90% of women and girls will live free from gender inequality and gender-based violence, mitigating the risk and impact of HIV.
Two specific sub-objectives in the Global Fund’s strategy aim to scale-up programmes to support women and girls and reduce health inequalities marked by age and gender. Reducing HIV incidence among Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) (15-24) by 45% over the life of the strategy (2017-2022) is a key target.
Specific approaches under these two sub-objectives include working with countries to develop appropriate initiatives in funding requests and grants to address gender-related barriers to services; and to support the development and implementation of gender-responsive national health strategies.
The approaches further include linking reproductive, maternal newborn, child and adolescent health interventions with HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria programmes; supporting programmes to keep girls in school; and supporting programmes to eliminate human rights barriers to services particularly for women living with HIV, transgender women, women who inject drugs, and commercial sex workers.
According to UNAIDS, a large number of new HIV infections in Kenya, South Africa and Swaziland are estimated to occur among adolescent girls, while in Nigeria, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, new infections are common among women in their late 20s.
UNAIDS recommends cash transfers as an intervention for AGYW aged between 10 and 24 in hyper-endemic countries with low rates of female secondary school enrolment.
For some countries, to access full amount of matching funds available will mean significantly scaling up programmes and targets for AGYW.
The number of new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women remains exceptionally high, especially in sub-Saharan African countries. UNAids estimates that there were 450,000 new HIV infections among this group in 2015.