Zambia will receive 30 million U.S. dollars from international organizations to help it reduce new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women over the period of two years, a senior official said Friday.
The funds will go towards a new initiative, Determined, Resilient, Empowered, Aids-free, Mentored and Safe (DREAMS).
The initiative was established by United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Girl Effect in collaboration with the National AIDS Council (NAC), a Zambian government agency responsible for coordination responses to the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
The goal of the initiative is to reduce new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women by 40 percent over two years.
Minister of Health Joseph Kasonde said during the launch of the initiative that the contribution of 30 million dollars was an addition to the 326 million dollars which the U.S. government, through PEPFAR, contributed to the country’s HIV response last year and the 2.6 million dollars that was contributed since PEPFAR started in the country in 2004.
The Zambian minister said the goal of the initiative was to empower young women by addressing the social and economic factors such as poverty, lack of education and gender-based violence that puts girls at risk of contracting HIV and AIDS.
The Ministry of Health, together with five other line ministries, is working with the U.S. government and the UNAIDS, a key partner.
U.S. Ambassador to Zambia Eric Schultz said on the same occasion that young women and adolescent girls in Zambia were disproportionately affected by HIV, adding that reaching the goal would require working directly with them.
According to government figures, 11.2 percent of young women in Zambia aged between 20 and 24 were living with HIV compared to 7.3 percent of males in the same age group.
In cities, 10.7 percent of girls between 15 and 24 years were also living with the HIV virus.