The University of Washington is one of 56 DREAMS Innovation Challenge winners* announced on Monday by the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR); Janssen Pharmaceutica NV (Janssen), one of the Janssen pharmaceutical companies of Johnson & Johnson; and ViiV Healthcare. Their combined $85 million investment will accelerate progress toward the DREAMS target of 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.

“With today’s investment, thousands more adolescent girls and young women will have the opportunity to fulfill their dreams,” said Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, M.D., U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy. “Adolescent girls and young women deserve nothing less, and we are committed to walk with them at every step along the road to an AIDS-free generation.”

The University of Washington was awarded funding for an innovative project, which seeks to determine best practices for providing the HIV prevention tool, PrEP, to adolescent girls in clinics and health systems in Kenya. PrEP is a daily anti-HIV medication that can be taken by someone at risk of acquiring HIV to prevent them from becoming HIV positive.

Professor Grace John-Stewart (Global Health, Medicine, Epidemiology, Pediatrics), who has an extensive research background in HIV transmission and pathogenesis in women and children, and who also serves as an active mentor for trainees at UW, will lead the project.

Partners for this new project include University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill and Kenyatta National Hospital – Nairobi.  They were funded for two years in the amount of nearly $4m and plan to begin this September.

“When you know that close to 60 percent of new HIV infections, globally, occur in adolescent girls, it is an obvious decision for us to invest in supporting education and empowerment for girls,” said Dr. Dominique Limet, Chief Executive Officer at ViiV Healthcare. “As with any of our initiatives, it is crucial to work with partners to develop systemic solutions. We are proud to be involved with the DREAMS Innovation Challenge, to support this new important work delivered through community-based projects.”

UW researchers will include Grace John-Stewart, Carol Levin, Gabrielle O’Malley, Jared Baeten, and Ruanne Barnabas. Kenyatta National Hospital researchers include John Kinuthia. University of North Carolina researchers include Harsha Thirumurthy.

Read the full press release from PEPFAR including a full list of funders and winners*:

* Currently, the organizations selected are considered provisional winners until further notice.

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