NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 4 – Visiting Deputy Administrator USAID Bonnie Glick has held a round-table discussion with beneficiaries of DREAMS a USAID funded project which is part of the agency’s commitment to HIV prevention among young people.
Glick who held the forum at at St Johns Community Center in Kamukunji sub-county was impressed by the achievements of the project that has reached 22,719 adolescent girls and young women with appropriate health education that enabled them to make informed decisions about their reproductive health.
“I am very impressed by how DREAMS has touched lives of these girls and young women. It makes me happy that we have been able to reduce risks and vulnerabilities to HIV infections and ensure that girls and young women have access to continued HIV prevention, mitigation, care and treatment services,” she said.
DREAMS is part of USAID’s commitment to HIV prevention among young people, is positively impacting on the lives of young people in vulnerable places.
The project which was started in 2015 has been able to achieve this by providing interventions to prevent new HIV infections among adolescents’ particularly vulnerable girls and young women aged between 10-24 yrs who are at risk of contracting HIV.
According to World Health Organization, girls and women account for 74 per cent of new HIV infections among adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa.
DREAMS uses participatory methods to provide individualized, evidence-based and comprehensive HIV care and gender based violence prevention, treatment and protection services for adolescent girls and young women.
These interventions are sensitive to age cohorts (10-14, 15-19, and 20-24) and cater to individual circumstances.
Bearing in mind that limited economic and social opportunities often result in risky sexual practices that led to poor health, education and social outcomes, DREAMS has trained over 9000 adolescent girls and young women on financial literacy skills, leading to improved money management and a culture of saving.
Glick also learnt that 12,252 adolescent girls and young women have been empowered to build social; capital, networks and assets that improve their livelihoods and health dimensions and make them less likely to be victims of sexual harassment and violence.
Chief of Party DREAMS initiative Betty Adera says their main aim is to prevent new infections and ensure HIV negative girls and young women remain negative by equipping them with information on healthier and safer sexual practices.
Adera says the program also entails safe- space peer weekly meetings, which give adolescent girls and young women the opportunity to interact and learn ways of building their resilience, confidence and self esteem.
“Through DREAMS, at-risk adolescent girls and young women aged between 10-24 years can live determined, resilient empowered, AIDS-free, mentored and safe lives in the toughest of environments,” said Adere.
The goal for DREAMS is to reduce HIV infections by 40 per cent among this cohort.