How the Covid-19 Crisis Heightens HIV Risk for Adolescent Girls and Young Women
Adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) are at substantially higher risk of contracting HIV than their male peers, with data showing that they are from 2 to 14 times more likely to be infected. This disproportionate impact is driven by a range of factors, including AGYW’s lack of economic empowerment and educational opportunities, widespread gender-based violence, and limited access to reproductive health information and services. The risks AGYW face are put in stark relief by the Covid-19 pandemic, which is further exacerbating their vulnerabilities and is already undermining important progress in HIV prevention.
Over the last five years, the U.S. government and other public and private partners have intensified efforts to prevent new HIV infections among AGYW. In late 2014, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief’s (PEPFAR) launched the DREAMS partnership (Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe). Using a multisectoral approach, DREAMS works to address the factors that put AGYW at risk, thereby reducing HIV infections and contributing to epidemic control. Many experts now see that the Covid-19 pandemic threatens DREAMS’s momentum and achievements.
In this series of short videos and podcasts, the CSIS GHPC team speaks to experts, program implementers, and adolescent girls and young women themselves on the ground in Kenya, South Africa, and Zambia. Through their insights and reflections, we can better understand the progress that has been made to date for AGYW, the remaining gaps and challenges, and the rising threats posed by Covid-19.
This work is made possible by generous support from ViiV Healthcare.