"When I started my career at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the mid-1980s, AIDS was a newly discovered virus and people counseled me to stay away. They said it was just a medical curiosity that would be quickly solved and never have major public health importance. I didn't listen to them and made AIDS the focus of my work."
Since HIV – the disease that causes AIDS – was identified in 1981, more than 60 million people have been infected – and 25 million have died AIDS-related deaths, mostly in low- and middle-income countries.
Women are at a higher risk for infection than men – in part due to anatomy but also because of gender inequality and sexual abuse. And hundreds of children are born with every day with the disease transmitted from their mothers.
In developed countries like the United States your earning potential is often based on the number of diplomas you have. But in rural Malawi, completing even a primary education is one of the most precious things anyone can achieve. For most girls there, getting even that single diploma is a rarity.
With a higher value placed on working in the fields, fetching water and helping take care of younger siblings, education lags behind for girls.