Adolescent girls and young women (AGYW), ages 15–24 years, account for 75 percent of young people in sub-Saharan Africa who are living with HIV. As many as 7,000 new infections a week are occurring among the most vulnerable AGYW in Eastern and Southern Africa; AIDS is the leading cause of death for adolescent girls ages 10–19 in Africa. In sub-Saharan Africa, women acquire HIV five to seven years earlier than men, and young women are at an increased risk of HIV acquisition compared to young men. To date, prevention efforts have not had the maximum impact on AGYW’s risk of acquiring HIV.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UN-AIDS), highlights gender-based violence, limited access to health services, limited education, and policies or systems that exclude young women as the key contributors to AGYW’s increased vulnerability to HIV.
The introduction of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) within the context of a comprehensive HIV prevention package, would make a new HIV prevention option available for AGYW, offering them an opportunity for more control of their sexual health.