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Analysis Making Multisectoral Collaboration Work

Tackling HIV by empowering adolescent girls and young women: a multisectoral, government led campaign in South Africa

BMJ 2018; 363 doi: (Published 07 December 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;363:k4585
  1. Hasina Subedar, adviser1,
  2. Sarah Barnett, consultant2,
  3. Tsakani Chaka, researcher3,
  4. Sibongile Dladla, specialist4,
  5. Ellen Hagerman, consultant5,
  6. Sarah Jenkins, manager6,
  7. Gertrude Matshimane, manager1,
  8. Kerry Mangold, manager7,
  9. Busi Msimanga, officer8,
  10. Ruth Pooe, director9,
  11. Lebogang Schultz, officer10,
  12. Yogan Pillay, executive1
  1. 1National Department of Health, Pretoria, South Africa
  2. 2SB Consultancy World, Bristol, UK
  3. 3Office of the Deputy President, The Presidency, Pretoria, South Africa
  4. 4US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Pretoria, South Africa
  5. 5Equality Networx, Johannesburg, South Africa
  6. 6Clinton Health Access Initiative, Pretoria, South Africa
  7. 7South African National AIDS Council, Pretoria, South Africa
  8. 8World Health Organization, Pretoria, South Africa
  9. 9Department of Social Development, Pretoria, South Africa
  10. 10United Nations Population Fund, South Africa Country Office Pretoria, South Africa
  1. Correspondence to: H Subedar hasinas{at}

Hasina Subedar and colleagues describe the intersectoral collaboration enabling She Conquers, a three year national campaign rolled out across South Africa, to tackle the multiple drivers of the high rates of HIV infection among adolescent girls and young women

Despite a recent fall in new infections, South Africa still has the largest HIV epidemic in the world and has not achieved the 50% reduction envisaged in its national strategic plan for 2012-16.12 Adolescent girls and young women are disproportionally affected by HIV, with prevalence among 20-24 year olds three times higher in women (16%) than in men (5%), and females aged 15-24 years accounting for 37% of new infections.13 Amid the competing priorities for HIV funding, the current national plan (2017-22)2 calls for urgent focus on adolescent girls and young women.

Although many organisations and government departments target adolescent girls and young women, action has often been piecemeal, resulting in duplication of effort, funds not allocated strategically, and limited impact. On World AIDS Day 2015, South Africa’s deputy president called for a collective and collaborative response to the high rates of HIV and its key drivers among adolescent girls and young women.4 In June 2016, the government launched the three year She Conquers campaign.5 The campaign seeks to reduce HIV infections, improve overall health outcomes, and expand opportunities for adolescent girls and young women to decide their own futures (table 1). The campaign moves beyond a focus on disease transmission and associated stigma to a narrative of power (see suppl 1 on

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Table 1

Aim, objectives, and targets of She Conquers campaign

She Conquers primarily targets women aged 15-24 years, although interventions also target others in the HIV transmission cycle, such as older men and women.6 Core interventions are implemented by a diverse …

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