Muia works with the USAID/Kenya and East Africa Afya Jijini Program, which is implemented by IMA World Health. The program uses the Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS free, Mentored and Safe, or DREAMS, intervention with the goal to empower adolescent girls and young women, and reduce their HIV risk in Nairobi, Kenya’s informal settlements.
In Kenya, 5 in every 10 Kenyan women, ages 15 to 49, have experienced at least one form of violence in their lifetime. The girls in the slums are even more vulnerable to HIV infection, and often engage in what is called “transactional relationships” where men take advantage of young girls by offering to support them in exchange for sexual favors. The girls and young women often lack job skills that would enable them to support themselves in any other way.
Girls in these types of relationship lack the ability to negotiate or request that their partners be monogamous, use condoms or get circumcised. “[It] is still largely unheard of for most adolescent girls and young women living in the project’s catchment areas,” Muia said.
Lessons learned from DREAMS activities included: