The Obama administration said today that it is dedicating an additional $300 million to reduce HIV infection rates among women and girls in 10 African countries. The Associated Press reports that the administration is aiming at “25 percent infection reduction in females between ages 15-24 by the end of next year and a 40 percent reduction by the end of 2017.”
“No greater action is needed right now than empowering adolescent girls and young women to defeat HIV/Aids. Every year, 380,000 adolescent girls and young women are infected with HIV,” Susan Rice, the administration’s National Security Advisor, said in a statement.
The President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) was launched by George W. Bush in 2003 and has since provided billions for antiretroviral drugs and prevention programs in Africa. The newly allocated funds will expand on that work, focusing on women in 10 key countries: Uganda, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. The AP notes that women and girls in those countries account for nearly half of all new HIV infections on the continent.
In addition to the funds allocating to focus on women’s health, PEPFAR will also “provide 13 million male circumcisions for HIV prevention.” According to the World Health Organization, there is “compelling evidence” that circumcision reduces the risk of “heterosexually acquired HIV,” thus reducing the risk to pass the virus on to partners.
Image via AP.