Empowering Lives: PEPFAR and Pact’s strides in supporting children, girls and young women
World AIDS Day, observed annually on December 1, is a persistent reminder of the global battle against HIV. It serves as a platform to raise awareness, recognize those affected and highlight the strides made in prevention, treatment and support. In this spirit, I would like to draw attention to the significant contributions that PEPFAR, and Pact through the USAID-funded Adolescents and Children HIV Incidence Reduction, Empowerment and Virus Elimination (ACHIEVE) project, has made in the areas of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) and the Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe initiative, better known as DREAMS.
OVC, especially those living with HIV, are often marginalized and overlooked, while facing unique challenges including accessing life-saving treatment. Over the past year, ACHIEVE ensured that all children living with HIV who are enrolled in the project, 43,365 in total, had access to treatment, and of the 99.7% on antiretroviral therapy (ART), 97.6% were virally suppressed. Pact’s community-based approach provides holistic services for children living with HIV and their families, so that they may reach viral suppression, which in turn allows them to live healthy productive lives.
We recognize the interconnectedness of issues affecting OVC, including health, education and economic stability. Through targeted interventions, we provide comprehensive support systems that enable children to thrive despite the challenges they face. By collaborating with and strengthening the capacity of community-based organizations, we ensure that interventions are culturally sensitive, relevant and tailored to the specific needs of OVC.
Empowering communities is our overarching approach, and we believe it creates sustainable impact.
DREAMS is PEPFAR’s global effort to reduce new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women (AGYW). Pact plays a pivotal role in DREAMS by implementing innovative strategies to address the multifaceted factors that contribute to the vulnerability of AGYW. We work to dismantle structural barriers such as gender inequality, inadequate education and economic disparities that increase vulnerability to HIV. By providing mentorship, education and economic opportunities, the ACHIEVE project empowers young women to take control of their lives and make informed choices that reduce their risk of HIV infection.
In the last year, we enrolled 97,422 AGYW into DREAMS programs and focused on primary prevention of sexual violence and HIV, financial literacy and education support, along with clinical services like HIV testing, pre-exposure prophylaxis initiation and gender-based violence response. This comprehensive approach contributes to the overall goal of creating AIDS-free communities by breaking the cycle of transmission and providing a pathway to a brighter future for young women.
As we commemorate World AIDS Day, it is essential to celebrate the progress made by PEPFAR’s investments through projects like ACHIEVE. Using evidence-based interventions, we are not only addressing the immediate challenges faced by young people, but also building a foundation for a future where communities can thrive despite the impact of HIV. The dedication of donors like USAID through PEPFAR and the hard work of communities reminds us that, collectively, we have the power to create a world where every individual, regardless of circumstances, can live a healthy and empowered life.
The dedication of donors like USAID through PEPFAR and the hard work of communities reminds us that, collectively, we have the power to create a world where every individual, regardless of circumstances, can live a healthy and empowered life.