At AIDS 2008, the world's largest HIV forum in Mexico City that commenced this weekend, the need for interventions specifically designed to empower girls was clear: increasingly, the face of AIDS in Africa is young and female.
UNAIDS figures from Swaziland are a good snapshot: HIV prevalence among girls 15-24 is over 20 percent; among boys it's just over 5 percent.
The Global Fund (RED) grants in Rwanda, Ghana, Swaziland and Lesotho emphasize programs serving women and children. And more needs to be done to give greater attention to females of different ages and circumstances (married v. unmarried, living in urban v. rural areas).
Lisa MacCallum, Managing Director of Nike Foundation, showed a video called "The Girl Effect" that we loved. The gist of the video is that by valuing and investing in girls they can make a better life for themselves, their families and improve society as a whole.
Watch the video:
So far, the incredible scale up of Global Fund resources from public and private sector donors, including (RED) consumers, coupled with newly-reauthorized PEPFAR investments, direct action by affected countries, and partnerships driven by civil society are all driving in the right direction. We just need to step on the gas.