The White House has pledged $300 million to combat the spread of HIV among young women in sub-Saharan Africa. It is hoped that this additional funding will reduce new HIV cases by up to 40 percent by the end of 2017. The increased funding is part of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which was founded in 2003.
The money will be used to provide antiretrovirals to nearly 13 million people living with the disease. Additionally, circumcisions will be performed on 13 million men, which the World Health Organization claims can reduce the spread of HIV by up to 60 percent.
"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—7,300 every week, over 1,000 every day. This must change," National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice said in a statement.
Reducing rates of HIV transmission in this region is a complex problem.
The people affected in the highest numbers are those living in impoverished, rural areas, which makes it hard to disseminate information and medication. Sexual violence against young women is rampant, and using condoms is seen as taboo due to religious beliefs and social norms. Government officials can be hesitant to address these issues directly.
"We believe if we all — governments, the private sector, civil society, including faith-based organizations — bring our collective will and energy together we can achieve an AIDS-free generation and bring this epidemic to a halt," Rice's statement concluded.
[Header image via: iStockphoto]