In South Africa, every week 2,400 adolescent girls and young women are infected with HIV, the highest rate in sub-Saharan Africa.
The United States government, through PEPFAR (U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), and the South
African government have come together to try and stem this scourge through the DREAMS initiative.
The goal of DREAMS is to help girls develop into Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe women.
On November 17, 2015, the U.S. and South African governments (partnering with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Girl Effect) launched DREAMS at the Birchwood Hotel in Ekurhuleni. In attendance were U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Patrick Gaspard, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Deborah Birx, Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi, Deputy Executive Director at UNAIDS Luiz Loures, and Chair of the SANAC Civil Society Forum Mapaseka Steve Letsike.
“It’s exciting working in partnership with South Africa. The U.S. and South Africa have managed to reduce mother-to-child transmissions of HIV dramatically and we have over three million people on ARTs, but still we have over six million people who are HIV positive in this country — far too many young people who are losing hope, opportunity, and access to real pathways in the economy. DREAMS is going to change that,” said U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Patrick Gaspard.
Gaspard said the DREAMS initiative will create opportunities for entrepreneurship, micro-financing, education, and awareness, resulting not only in an AIDS-free generation, but a generation ready to lead South Africa, the continent, and the world.