International Day of the Girl Child 2017 - Stories That Inspire
In honor of International Day of the Girl Child, we share four stories about young girls in the countries in which we’re working to end AIDS in children.
Since the start of the global HIV epidemic, women have been disproportionately affected by HIV in many regions. Today, women constitute more than half of all people living with HIV. AIDS-related illnesses remain the leading cause of death for women of reproductive age (15-44). Young women (10-24 years), and adolescent girls (10-19 years) in particular account for a disproportionate number of new HIV infections. In fact, young women are twice as likely to acquire HIV as their male counterparts. In 2015, 20% of new HIV infections among adults were among women aged 15-24 despite this group only accounting for 11% of the global adult population. This equates to some 7,500 young women across the world acquiring HIV every week.*
TAWONGA: GREAT THANKS IN RURAL MALAWI
Tawonga is an 8-year-old girl living in central Malawi. She loves running fast through the rows of her family’s cassava field. She loves learning how to write at her local school. And she loves pretending that she is a mother, wrapping her 9-month-old brother Abraham onto her back with a colorful chitenge. Tawonga and her parents are living with HIV. “When they forget to take their medicine, I remind them,” says Tawonga, whose name means great thanks.
CLEOPHAS BEATS HIV AND MALARIA
Cleophas, an energetic 14-year-old, has suffered several bouts with malaria during the course of her young life. As a 4-year-old, Cleophas received a blood transfusion as a treatment for a case of malaria. Unfortunately, the blood supply was not properly vetted at that time, and she was infected with HIV as a result. She hopes to become a nurse someday and help other girls dealing with serious illnesses.
MAMA COUNTY SAYS, “STAY IN SCHOOL”
Lines of adolescent girls descend from school buses and stroll across the grounds of the St. Francis Nyangajo Girls School in Homabay County, Kenya. Chatting and laughing, the girls find their way to seats under tents along the perimeter of the sports field. In all, more than 2,000 girls from area schools fill the space. The buzz of conversation subsides as three of their peers, step onto the stage at the end of the field. The girls recite poems and deliver testimonies about how they have stood up for themselves to stay in school, to avoid HIV, to avoid pregnancy.
At 14, Corazon Aquino is finally a big sister, a role she finds “exciting”. She enjoys helping her mother care for 1-month old Rose and thinks about her future when she will be a doctor and have three children of her own. She feels secure knowing that her children, like her baby sister, can be born HIV-free. Both Corazon and her mother, Esther Opinya, are living with HIV.
"I want to be a doctor in my future so that I can help those living HIV-positive."
*Stats from Avert - Global information and education on HIV and AIDS.