DREAMS is an ambitious $385 million partnership to reduce HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women in 10 sub-Saharan African countries. The goal of DREAMS is to help girls develop into Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe women. Girls and young women account for 71 percent of new HIV infections among adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa. The 10 DREAMS countries (Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe) account for nearly half of all the new HIV infections that occurred among adolescent girls and young women globally in 2014. With support from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Girl Effect, Johnson & Johnson, Gilead Sciences, and ViiV Healthcare, DREAMS is delivering a core package that combines evidence-based approaches that go beyond the health sector, addressing the structural drivers that directly and indirectly increase girls’ HIV risk, including poverty, gender inequality, sexual violence, and a lack of education. Many adolescent girls and young women lack a full range of opportunities and are too often devalued because of gender bias, leading them to be seen as unworthy of investment or protection. Social isolation, economic disadvantage, discriminatory cultural norms, orphanhood, gender-based violence, and school drop-out all contribute to girls’ vulnerability to HIV. DREAMS has the potential change how we work together to ensure an AIDS-free future for adolescent girls and young women.
This is an overview of the DREAMS initiative in Lesotho.