Young Women LEARN is a two-year project funded by the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief as part of the DREAMS Innovation Challenge, managed by JSI Research and Training Institute, Inc. Young Women Lead, Evidence, Advocate, Research, Network (LEARN) led by the ATHENA Initiative and their community partners PIPE and ICWEA, aims to promote an HIV prevention agenda informed by the meaningful participation of adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) in research where they are serving as researchers and building an evidence base for, by, and with AGYW. 

LEARN is designed to support effective roll-out and uptake of PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) among AGYW in Kenya and Uganda and to ensure that PrEP is responsive to the needs, rights, priorities, and preferences of AGYW in all of their diversity.

LEARN aspires to build a cadre of HIV prevention Ambassadors among AGYW most impacted by HIV to define their priorities, as LEARN Ambassadors to lead research, advocacy and mobilization in their communities, Key to LEARN is advocacy for prevention programming that reflects AGYW’s lived realities, values and preferences. In addition, the LEARN Ambassadors will also identify, support and mentor 100 AGYW to raise awareness around PrEP and sexual and reproductive health and rights services in their communities through peer to peer learning.

LEARN combines participatory action research with leadership methodologies to ensure that PrEP roll-out and implementation is responsive to the needs, rights, priorities and preferences of AGYW in all of their diversity. LEARN has recruited a cadre of HIV prevention Ambassadors among AGYW most impacted by HIV to:

  • Define their priorities, set agendas and lead research
  • Gather meaningful data in safe, learning environments
  • Contribute to the formal evidence base around HIV prevention science
  • Advocate for prevention programming reflecting AGYW’s lived realities, values and preferences.

LEARN will:

  • Disseminate information about PrEP which has been identified as a valuable HIV prevention tool
  • Ensure PrEP roll-out and implementation is responsive to the needs, rights priorities and preferences of AGYW through generating evidence, promoting meaningful engagement of AGYW and through contributing to an enabling environment
  • Train and equip LEARN Ambassadors 20-24 years in Kenya and Uganda with sound knowledge of PrEP, its use and access; the skills to shape and conduct participatory research; and the ability to translate their findings into an action agenda, targeted at policy, research, or service design.
  • Further, LEARN Ambassadors will build connections, share information, lead research, advocate and mobilize AGYW in their communities.

Current Progress

Read our Year 1 in Review to find out more about what LEARN has delivered so far.

  • Residential skills building workshop – In May, we hosted a 5 day residential skills building workshop with the LEARN Ambassadors in Nairobi, Kenya. The workshop aimed to begin the process of equipping them with a sound knowledge of PrEP, its use and access; the skills to shape and conduct participatory research; and the ability to translate their findings into an action agenda, targeted at policy, research, or service design.
  • Launch event – in May, ATHENA hosted a project launch in Nairobi which provided a great platform to share information on the LEARN project and build partnerships with other stakeholder working on HIV prevention, care, treatment and support for AGYW. The Ambassadors took leadership in this event and highlighted the need for commitment to invest in AGYW put them at the center of research and policy enactment.
  • Global Reference Group (GRG) – an advisory body to the project has been convened to provide guidance and expertise to the project. Collectively they represent a pool of knowledge that will enhance the LEARN project.
  • Peer mobilization activities -   The Ambassadors have begun to identify, support and mentor AGYW in their districts as peer mobilizers to raise awareness around PrEP within the context of a broader dialogue around HIV prevention and sexual and reproductive health and rights. Each Ambassador will connect and support 10 AGYW peer mobilizers.

Key Documents and Links


LEARN Year 1 Review

Summary Workshop Report

LEARN Video for DREAMS-IC 

ATHENA Initiative, review of PrEP and AGYW 

Young Women LEARN Project Update