Helping DREAMS Come True In Botswana
Adolescent girls and young women are still disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa. According to UNICEF, 70 percent of new HIV infections among 15-19-year-olds were found in females from sub-Saharan Africa.
Accordingly, PCI is helping girls develop into Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe (DREAMS) women in Botswana. The DREAMS Initiative seeks to substantially reduce new HIV infections among vulnerable adolescent girls and young women by promoting positive sexual health behaviors, increasing access to sexual and reproductive health services, and creating an environment where they can make positive life choices.
Supported by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Girl Effect, PCI is working with caregivers and government providers to create safe spaces for adolescent girls and young women in schools and communities. PCI’s programs provide these women and girls with HIV prevention services that support improved health, safety, education, and stability.
PCI weaves economic empowerment activities, such as savings groups and basic business skills training programs, into our HIV prevention activities to improve young women’s work readiness. PCI also works with parents by offering training on effectively communicating with their children about sexuality and sexual risk in support of adolescent girl’s wellbeing.
Additionally, PCI provides peer-based Safe Spaces to adolescent girls and young women. Within these Safe Spaces, mentors connect adolescent girls and young women to needed clinical services and work to build their self-esteem and confidence by promoting healthy, positive relationships with their friends, peers, and significant authority figures.
Across all DREAMS programming, PCI collaborates closely with local stakeholders and government agencies to improve youth-friendly HIV prevention services and increase the coverage and sustainability of services for adolescent girls.
Combating HIV/AIDS in Zambia
PCI is helping the Zambia Defense Force develop HIV prevention strategies that address the ethos, cultural, gender, and socioeconomic factors contributing to the spread of HIV/AIDS within the military. Funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, PCI’s HIV/AIDS Prevention program helped implement behavioral interventions by working with over 1,000 military peer educators, 800 youth peer educators, and 100 local drama groups.
Through one-on-one and small group discussions, peer educators reached over 71,000 adults and15,000 adolescents, as well as female sex workers in remote military operation areas. All participants received health education and generated demand for HIV testing, distribution of test kits, condoms, and partner notification services. Additionally, 60 percent of the clients reached were linked to biomedical services.
PCI is helping the Zambia Defense Force reduce the risk of HIV transmission through its laboratory capacity strengthening program. Access to laboratory diagnostic tests help individuals living with HIV become aware of the load of HIV virus in their blood, which guides treatment choices to prevent HIV transmission.
Because women living with HIV are particularly vulnerable to cervical cancer due to a compromised immune system, PCI has partnered with the Zambia Defense Force to integrate cervical cancer “screen-and-treat” programming into routine HIV treatment services.
From 2009–2019, PCI collaborated with the Malawi Defense Force to control the HIV epidemic in the military setting and in surrounding communities. The Malawi Defense Force has an estimated population of 10,000 personnel, with 13 units spread across the country, mostly in hard-to-reach, rural areas adjacent to communities depending on the military for a variety of services. An estimated 14 percent of active duty military personnel in the Malawi Defense Force are infected with HIV/AIDS—a number that is significantly improved from previous years.
From 2017–2019, PCI helped reduce the incidence of HIV and prevalence of other sexually transmitted infections as well as provide care and treatment for HIV infected and affected defense personnel, their families, and surrounding communities.
PCI implemented program activities in all 13 Malawi Defense Force units across the country, reaching 38,277 military personnel and civilians in and around the military bases with HIV prevention, care, treatment, and support services.
Over the past 10 years, PCI helped the Malawi Defense Force strengthen its HIV/AIDS programs, including building the capacity of military leadership to effectively design, manage, and monitor interventions; enhancing the adult and pediatric HIV service delivery system; and using data to support specific interventions, such as the prevention of mother-to-child transmission and voluntary medical male circumcision.