AHF Africa Flags Off GIRLS ACT in Uganda, Kenya, South Africa & Nigeria for Young Women and Girls!

Healthcare Foundation
, Africa
, officially launched its young women and girls initiative
tagged GIRLS ACT (Awareness Campaign Tour) as part of its public
health campaign interventions for young women and girls aged 15-24. The
campaign, which will take the form of a mobile caravan, is anchored on
two objectives: preventing new HIV infections amongst those who are
negative and promoting positive living with dignity amongst those who
are HIV+.

“We are aware of the grim statistics and how HIV/AIDS continues to
affect young women and girls disproportionately. After due consultations
with youth led groups, young people and focus group discussions, we came
to the conclusion that we need to take the services and information to
where the young women and girls are, using approaches that are
appealing, exciting and spark their participation. A majority of the
girls do not visit health facilities for various reasons, and the ones
who are positive continue to struggle with self-esteem issues and
stigma, which negatively impacts their health. If we want to get
different results, we must do things differently and that is what we are
doing with the GIRLS ACT,” shared Alice Kayongo, Regional
Policy and Advocacy Manager E/W Africa.

According to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS),
despite progress made in HIV/AIDS response, young people, especially
young women and girls continue to be overly affected by HIV. About
380,000 new HIV infections occur among young women aged 15–24 annually.
In 2013, almost 60% of all new HIV infections among young people aged
15–24 occurred among adolescent girls and young women. Globally,
15% of women living with HIV are aged 15–24, and 80% of them live in
sub-Saharan Africa.

“South Africa currently faces rising rates of HIV infection among
adolescent girls. In fact, recent studies reveal that girls are 8 times
more likely to become HIV+ than their male peers. Combined with high
rates of sexual violence and poverty, this creates a perfect storm and
our girls need to be empowered to act to protect themselves and their
futures. Girls ACT is an initiative by AHF to create safe spaces where
young people and their communities can access healthcare and education
which will allow them to take charge of their sexual and reproductive
health,” said Larissa Klazinga, AHF Regional Policy and Advocacy
Manager: Southern Africa.

As a result of the campaign, young women and girls will have access to
various services and information on HIV/AIDS, menstrual hygiene,
psychosocial support, sexual reproductive health and legal aid amongst
others. AHF Uganda Cares will kick-start the campaign using the moniker “GIRLS
in a colourful ceremony that will be attended by young
people, dignitaries from both the private and public sector, members of
parliament, civil society organizations, and celebrities at
Bwaise-Kawempe Growers Grounds in Kampala; after which the campaign will
head to Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

“I am beyond excited about the GIRLS ACT. This is certainly an out of
the box initiative, where the caravan will move from one location to
another with a team of counselors and testers to ensure that we are
empowered with the right information in a safe space,” gushed Eron
(an 18 year old student from Uganda).

“It is really great to see the support that we have received from young
people, governments and partners on the GIRLS ACT. The excitement from
the girls is contagious and does reveal that we are doing something
right. We plan to extend the GIRLS ACT to other countries we support and
to more locations in the first four countries. Beyond the campaign, we
are working closely with partners to ensure that the girls get the
necessary medical and psychosocial support to help them live more
productive lives. It is my hope that more countries and organizations
will take up this initiative and take the services to where the girls
are,” added Dr. Penninah Iutung, AHF Africa Bureau Chief.


Kemi Gbadamosi
Manager, PR & Communications, Africa Bureau

Regional Policy & Advocacy Manager, E/W Africa

Regional Policy & Advocacy Manager, Southern Africa