A Question of Circumstance: The Fight to Keep Young Women HIV-Free

“The staggering impact HIV continues to have on young women should be a wake-up call to us all,” says Meryl Streep, who gave her time and talent to help the Global Fund raise awareness – not just about HIV, but about how it disproportionately affects women and girls.

“This week alone, more than 7,000 young women and girls will be infected with HIV. That isn’t a coincidence. That is a result of the specific circumstances that often leave women without a voice or control of their own bodies. We are living in an age of great hope and promise for women’s health, but we must work harder to ensure vulnerable young women are not left behind. By investing in girls’ education the health benefits will follow,” says Ms Streep.

HIV can be a question of circumstance, but not circumstances beyond our control.

Reaching adolescent girls and young women with services that span health and education is an emerging priority for the Global Fund because evidence shows that better educating girls is one of the most effective ways to combat the spread of HIV. Girls out of school are three times more likely to contract HIV than girls who stay in school – and girls with little or no education are up to six times more likely to marry early than girls who have secondary education.

Evidence also points to a robust financial return. Every dollar invested in schooling for girls in poor countries creates a five-fold return, in terms of reducing mortality rates for adults and children under 5, and increasing income. Keeping adolescent girls and young women in school not only reduces vulnerability to HIV infection, it could also create a critical mass of healthy, educated and financially independent women who are able to make well-informed choices about their lives.

Learn more about how the Global Fund supports gender equality and invests to keep adolescent girls and young women in school and HIV-free.