Adolescent girls and young women represent over 70% of new HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa, but research also demonstrates that each additional year a girl spends in secondary school reduces her likelihood of contracting HIV. LLP’s focus groups have shown that many girls in the libraries' service areas drop out of secondary school due to lack of financial resources and/or are pressured by families, peers, or sexual partners into early marriage or transactional sex as forms of financial support, greatly increasing their risk of contracting HIV. Others face negative familial attitudes that restrict their educational possibilities by requiring them to work, perform household chores, or provide childcare for children/siblings instead of attending school.
The DREAMS target is achieving a 40 percent reduction in new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women in the highest-burden areas of 10 sub-Saharan African countries by the end of 2017. LLP’s approach under DREAMS recognizes that keeping girls in school is not enough to prevent HIV; girls’ success requires knowledge and skills and the determination to succeed. The following are a few of our programs that give girls the necessary knowledge, skills and determination:
LLP has supported 50 adolescent girls and young women with full secondary school scholarship support through a crowdsourced fundraising platform established under DREAMS-IC. These comprehensive scholarships include tuition, books, uniforms, school supplies, feminine hygiene products, and tutoring.
Through LLP’s public libraries, children and youth of all ages and backgrounds are offered free, confidential access to unbiased sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information and referral services. Under DREAMS, LLP has expanded its 4,000+ volume book collections to include a range of high-quality international titles focused on SRH, female leadership, HIV prevention, gender-based violence prevention, and girls’ education. Children and youth also have free access to internet in Lubuto Libraries, with a user-friendly internet portal available to help them locate and access quality online informational resources, including health materials. Staff also provide referrals for many health related questions and interests of Lubuto patrons both male and female.