A delegation of AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) women advocates from Uganda, Nigeria and Los Angeles embarked on a tour across the U.S. in January to promote “Girls ACT” – a bold campaign to raise HIV/AIDS awareness among young women and adolescent girls.
The initiative first kicked off last October in Africa, where young women ages 15 to 24 are disproportionately affected by the epidemic. About 15% of all women living with HIV are in that demographic, and of those, 80% live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Additionally, young women in the region are almost three times more likely to have HIV than their male counterparts.
AHF delegation visited Washington D.C., New York, Cleveland, Atlanta and Los Angeles to share and replicate the successful model used throughout the four-country African tour, which hinged on two main objectives: Scale-up HIV/AIDS prevention services to curb new infections; and ensure that young people with HIV are enrolled and retained in continuous care.
One key highlight was a joint meeting with executives at the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta. AHF affiliates rooted in community intervention programs revealed similarities between the issues facing young women and girls in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern cities in the U.S.
“We know that girls and young women are at very high risk for HIV around the world. By empowering them and giving them the knowledge they need to protect their health, we are saving their lives,” said Terri Ford, AHF’s Chief of Global Advocacy who was part of the tour. “The Girls ACT initiated in Africa will now be launched throughout the world. Imagine how many girls’ lives we can impact!”
The campaign is intended to spark a renewed global commitment to this at-risk group and ensure young women and adolescent girls can make informed choices and live healthy, productive lives.