South Africa launches national campaign for young women and adolescent girls

24 June 2016

The Deputy President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, launched an ambitious national campaign to prevent HIV among young women and adolescent girls on 24 June in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. The campaign will respond to the unacceptably high rate of new HIV infections among young women and adolescent girls in the country.

Almost 2000 new HIV infections occur among young women and adolescent girls (aged 15–24) in South Africa each week, a rate two and a half times that among males of the same age. The name of the campaign – to be determined through a competition among young women and adolescent girls themselves – will be announced at a later date. The campaign, developed with technical support from UNAIDS, UNFPA and other cosponsors, seeks to reduce the interlinked problems of HIV, school dropout, teenage pregnancy and gender-based violence and to maximize health, education and economic opportunities for young women and adolescent girls.

The three-year campaign will focus initially on the subdistricts with the highest incidence of HIV and will increase access to sexual and reproductive health information and services through adolescent- and youth-friendly clinics, the Integrated School Health Programme, community and peer outreach and support and parenting programmes for parents of teenagers and for teenage and young parents.

Special emphasis will be given to keeping young women in secondary and tertiary education. Young women have had a strong voice in developing the campaign, which will remain youth-led. The campaign has been funded through the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief DREAMS initiative, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the German development agency KfW and the national government. 


“Young women and girls are the heart and future of South Africa. We must together safeguard and support them as they make their transition to adulthood … protecting them from dangers, including HIV transmission.”

Cyril Ramaphosa Deputy President of South Africa

“We know that when a girl, a future mother, has access to health services and is HIV-free, is given a choice over when she marries and starts having children and has the opportunity to realize her full economic and social potential, she can escape disease and poverty and bring her family, community and country along with her.”

Patrick Gaspard United States of America Ambassador to South Africa

“We have procured new coloured and scented condoms to increase condom use among young people. They provide the four maximums: maximum pleasure, maximum protection, maximum quality and maximum number of young people making use of them.”

Aaoron Motsoaledi Minister of Health of South Africa

“UNFPA as the lead on prevention of sexual transmission of HIV, including among young women and girls, in the Joint UN Team on AIDS in South Africa, finds this launch to be an exciting and timely move by the government and is backed by the recent United Nations Political Declaration on Ending AIDS.”

Esther Muia United Nations Population Fund Country Representative, South Africa

“This campaign will empower youth to be able to make informed decisions. It is exciting that issues affecting young women will be addressed adequately. We stand to support this initiative as it seeks to secure a better future for youth.”

Steve Letsike Co-Chair of the South African National AIDS Council and Chairperson of the South African National AIDS Council Civil Society Forum

“This is not a campaign, but a movement, which I believe has the power to change and transform the lives of millions of young women, girls and men across our beloved country by ensuring that they are informed, educated, healthy and able to take full control of their bodies and future.”

Lerato LaGamorulane Youth Campaign Coordinator