Celebrating 5 Years of DREAMS
Data released on World AIDS Day 2020, showed that the DREAMS (Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe) program has reduced new HIV diagnoses among adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) by 25 percent or more in nearly all regions implementing the initiative. AGYW in Mozambique are part of this amazing success. In past two years alone, the DREAMS/Mozambique has leveraged significant investments to reach 123,436 at-risk girls aged 9-24 as well as their families and communities.
Why we need DREAMS?
Despite substantial declines in new HIV infections globally, the HIV/AIDS epidemic continues disproportionately impact AGYW in many countries, including Mozambique. In fact, HIV prevalence among AGYW 15- 24 years old in Mozambique is more than twice the rate of their male counterpart (6.1% for females versus 2.7% for males)). Given that 66% of the Mozambique population is composed of youth less than 25 years old and tha , 60 percent of new HIV infections occur in youth under the age of 25 it is imperative to focus on prevention initiatives for this age group.
To address this issue, U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) launched the flagship DREAMS partnership on World AIDS Day 2014. The initiative is implemented in Mozambique working closely with the GOM governments, partners, experts, advocates, and AGYW themselves.
DREAMS employs a comprehensive, multi-sectoral package of core interventions to address key factors that make girls and young women particularly vulnerable to HIV. U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) implement interventions at the clinical and community levels to address individual and contextual risk factors. DREAMS employs a unique layering approach, implementing multiple interventions at once so that AGYW are surrounded with critical support to keep them safe from HIV and other risks. Services include:
- Life skills sessions
- HIV prevention sessions
- Violence prevention sessions
- Financial literacy and economic strengthening
- Youth-friendly clinics/corners
- Education subsidies
- HIV Testing services
- Education and Provision of contraceptives
- Psychosocial support
- Alcohol & drug abuse/mental health support
- Parent/caregiver sessions
A signature of the DREAMS initiative is youth engagement and mentorship. As part of DREAMS AGYW with leadership qualities are selected to take part in the DREAMS ambassador program. These ambassadors work in their communities, schools, and health centers to inform other youths about SRH, HIV and GBV prevention and DREAMS interventions The DREAMS ambassadors are also advocates for other AGYW and youth at the district, provincial national and international level,. DREAMS ambassadors recently presented a number of high-level events. See their leadership in the multimedia resources here: in the box Dreams in focus.
And while we have a lot more work to do, DREAMS has helped to create a global focus on addressing the unique risks and needs experienced by AGYW. It has inspired partners at every level to renew their commitments on gender equality and its impact on adolescent health and development. We look forward to the year ahead and reaching even more AGYW with critical knowledge and services.