PEPFAR is the US President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief and is, quite simply, the largest financial commitment by any nation to address a single disease in history. Since 2003, PEPFAR funds have improved millions of lives, working towards ending the AIDS epidemic worldwide in over sixty of the hardest hit countries. PEPFAR have supported over 11 million people with antiretroviral treatment, and nearly 2 million babies have been born HIV-free to pregnant women living with HIV. PEPFAR also provides assistance to nearly 6.2 million orphans, vulnerable children, and their caregivers.
Our involvement with PEPFAR began officially in 2016, when we were awarded a two-year grant under their DREAMS Innovation Challenge initiative. The goal of DREAMS is that all young women are Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe, and organisations were asked to submit their innovative ideas towards this goal. We were delighted to be awarded funds for our idea to implement an HIV testing and Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) programme, using football to attract youth, in Nairobi, Kenya. Our focus is on getting young men and women tested for HIV, for free, and where willing, getting the men freely and voluntarily medically circumcised. VMMC has been proven to reduce the chances of female-to-male HIV infection by up to 60%, thus providing men with lifetime partial protection against the virus.
The funds are managed on the PEPFAR side by JSI, who have a long history in public health and who have supported us every step of the way, helping us grow our programme and our clinical services, and strengthening our procedures. In Nairobi, our implementing partner is our longstanding collaborator, Mathare Youth Sorts Association (MYSA). MYSA are an award-winning sport for development organisation, and for DREAMS they put forward coaches to be trained in TackleAfrica methodlogy, and mobilise their football teams to participate in the programme, encouraging players to learn about and take up the clinical services available.
Some of the amazing achievements of the DREAMS programme so far…
- 15.2 million voluntary medical male circumcisions to prevent infections in men and boys
- 25-40% decline in new HIV diagnoses among adolescent girls and young women through DREAMS
- 85.5 million people received HIV testing services
- 250,000 new health care workers trained
Football is a great mobiliser for youth, seen here at a recent TackleAfrica MYSA DREAMS tournamentAs we go into our second year of this fantastic programme, we thank everyone at PEPFAR, JSI, MYSA and all our coaches and players across Nairobi without whom this would not be possible.
If you would like to get involved in our work, there are lots of ways and we’d love to hear from you. Visit www.tackleafrica.org/get-involved for more details.