Photo by Rokim Robinson
Botswana has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world, with latest reports estimating it to be around 18.5% for the general population. Adolescent girls and young women ages 15 to 19 years old bear the highest burden, as they are almost three times more likely to be living with HIV than their male counterparts.
With funding from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), PCI provided 16,121 orphans and vulnerable children with support to improve their health and well-being. As part of these services, PCI also began implementing DREAMS, a global initiative of PEPFAR that aims to help adolescent girls and young women develop into Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe women.
"I became a DREAMS mentor because I want to guide adolescent girls to make informed decisions that will help them become people who are strong and confident in the future, for them to accept themselves as they are. They face a lot of challenges and I want to be a sister who guides them and doesn't judge them."
- Ms. Lame Aone Batungamile, PCI Botswana DREAMS mentor
After the program's official start in May 2018, a total of 780 adolescent girls and young women in two districts of Botswana were linked to a mentor who engages with them weekly. PCI also set up 46 in-school and out-of-school safe spaces, where girls meet twice a month to talk about important issues and receive HIV education and support services.