HER: HIV Epidemic Response

The Global Fund / Karin Schermbrucker

HIV is preventable, and yet nearly 1,000 young women and girls are infected with HIV every day. Despite great progress made against HIV globally, adolescent girls and young women continue to be disproportionately affected by the epidemic, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Through HER, the Global Fund aims to provide a platform to inspire advocates, engage new partners and supporters, drive innovation and mobilize resources to empower women and girls in the fight against HIV.

In sub-Saharan Africa, there are twice as many HIV infections among 15-24-year-old girls and young women as boys and men in the same age group. In the hardest-hit countries, there are six times more.

Harmful gender norms, discrimination, violence, limited access to education and employment, and a lack of tailored services inhibit women’s and girls’ access to health care and fuel new infections.

With Africa’s youth population expected to increase by 40% over the next decade, failure to act decisively could lead to a resurgence of HIV, with more new infections than at the height of the epidemic in the early 2000s.

Together with partners, the Global Fund has set a bold target to reduce the number of new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women by 58% in 13 African countries by 2022.

On board for HER

Speaking out in support of HER: Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook; Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway; Adam Grant, Psychologist and Author; Kathy Calvin, CEO, UN Foundation; Peter Sands, Executive Director, the Global Fund; Her Excellency Monica Geingos, First Lady of Namibia; Princess Sikhanyiso Dlamini of Eswatini; Sola David-Borha, Chief Executive of Africa Regions, Standard Bank Group, and Sibulele Sibaca, HER Voice Ambassador.

A collective, global effort

The Global Fund’s investments in adolescent girls and young women build upon the ground-breaking leadership of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the DREAMS Partnership, which has led to greater global recognition of the scope of the challenge of reaching adolescent girls and young women to reduce their risk for HIV.

With support from private sector partners and influential champions, HER aims to mobilize additional resources, foster new solutions and approaches to reach more adolescent girls and young women, as well as boys and young men, to drive down HIV infections.

A collective global effort is needed to reach this goal. With more awareness, more funding and more energy driving new approaches, we can change the course of the epidemic. This means urgently expanding prevention programs that put the voices and needs of adolescent girls and young women first, and incubating new and innovative approaches.

Programs like these can help create lasting change for adolescent girls and young women:

  • Comprehensive, adolescent-friendly prevention programs that provide sexuality education, condoms and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and HIV testing services – all free from stigma or discrimination
  • Life skills, financial literacy and “know your rights” education, which can empower girls and young women to be advocates for their own health and well-being
  • Cash incentives, peer networks, mentors and other social protection programs – including prevention of gender-based violence – to support girls as they complete their education
  • Community engagement and education, and investment in resilient systems for health that will sustain progress initiated through HER

HER is a collaborative platform for diverse partners to support adolescent girls and young women in countries with a high risk of HIV.

The Global Fund / Karin Schermbrucker

Partner story: Financial Support

(RED) and partners have contributed over US$600 million to the Global Fund, investing in smart, innovative HIV/AIDS programs that empower and support young women and girls. Partnering with (RED), Durex has committed at least US$5 million to the Keeping Girls in School program in South Africa. To combat increasing rates of HIV infections and unwanted pregnancies, the program provides sexual and reproductive health education and services to young women and girls in South Africa and supports school retention. Watch >

Partner story: Innovation

Tapping into Coca-Cola’s network of best-in-class creative marketing and consumer insight capacities, Project Last Mile worked with the Global Fund and Eswatini Health Promotion Unit to develop Girl Champ. It’s an innovative concept rooted in specialized research to better understand why HIV is an epidemic among young girls in Eswatini. Girl Champ enables adolescent and young girls to become informed and empowered to consider their future and protect their health. It sets up safe spaces for youth-centered dialogue on pressing health issues in a girls-only health club. Nearly 2,000 girls have registered for health services so far.

The Global Fund / John Rae
The Global Fund / John Rae

Partner story: Financial Support

Standard Bank, Africa’s largest banking group in terms of assets, has partnered with the Global Fund since 2008. The bank is an active HER supporter – both financially and through advocacy efforts. The collaboration has generated major impact awareness for the support of young women and girls most vulnerable to HIV, positioning Standard Bank as a role model for African businesses in the fight against the HIV epidemics.

Partner story: Viiv Healthcare

Through its Positive Action programs, ViiV Healthcare (ViiV) supports community-led responses around the world to tackle the HIV epidemic in their local communities. As a HER Voice partner, ViiV focuses on financing and capacity building among adolescent girls and young women groups to improve programmatic effectiveness, strengthen participation in Global Fund country processes and build the capacity of organizations and networks of young women, primarily in partnership with the HER Voice Fund.

The Global Fund / Alexia Webster

HER Voice

HER Voice is a fund that addresses the logistical barriers faced by groups and networks of adolescent girls and young women, to better enable them to participate in Global Fund country processes. It provides practical support, such as small grants to cover expenses, to ensure women and girls have a place at the table during key decision-making forums related to country policy reform, funding applications, and the design and implementation of programs that meet their needs.

In its pilot year in 2018, HER Voice provided almost 200 grants to networks and organizations led by women and girls across the 13 focus countries. This meant that young women and girls were at key decision-making moments and actively contributed to the outcome of policies and programs that directly impact their lives. For example, HER Voice has supported:

  • The Adolescent Girls and Young Women Health Delegation in Kenya, empowering 40 members to represent the interests and priorities of adolescent girls and young women at policy and other discussions.
  • Youth for Change in Zambia, whose members influence the design of programs by proposing tailored approaches to reach out to adolescent girls and young women living in remote or hard-to-reach areas.
  • An advocacy workshop in Cameroon in which 20 representatives discussed the HIV and AIDS national strategic plan and sent advocacy letters containing policy recommendations to decision-makers.
  • The Adolescent Girls and Young Women’s Priorities Charter for Uganda, to which nearly 100 young people contributed to influence the implementation of the National HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan for Uganda.

Thirteen young women influencers, activists and peer educators were chosen in each of the focus countries to become HER Voice Ambassadors and the face of the HER Voice Fund. They have been tasked with engaging in advocacy and the mobilization of their peers, ensuring that their voices are heard. These young women also engage in high level advocacy by actively participating in meetings with authorities, as well as regional and global gatherings.

“…Investing in women today is investing in our future in combating the spread of HIV/AIDS because we cannot win this war when some of us are held back.”
Beverly Mutindi, 23, HER Voice Ambassador in Kenya

We will win or lose the global fight against AIDS based on whether we win or lose the battle to protect adolescent girls and young women from HIV over the next few years.

Investing in girls means investing in the future. Together, we can empower the next generation to stay free from HIV.

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Investing in HER to end HIV

Sheryl Sandberg, Christine Lagarde, Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Her Excellency Monica Geingos and many others are speaking out in support of HER.

Learn more about our work with women and girls.

Women & Girls

Published 03 June 2019