A large randomized trial in Malawi shows that schoolgirls whose families received monthly cash transfers had a significantly lower HIV infection rate than the control group. The two-year experiment in Zomba, a district in southern Malawi, offered cash to households with schoolgirls aged 13-22 who had never been married. Some of the offers were conditional on regular school attendance, while others were unconditional. Eighteen months after the program began, the HIV prevalence among program beneficiaries was 60% lower than the control group (1.2% vs. 3.0%). Similarly, the prevalence of HSV-2 (herpes simplex virus - type 2, which is the common cause of genital herpes) was more than 75% lower in the combined treatment group (0.7% vs. 3.0%). No significant differences were detected between those offered conditional and unconditional payments. In addition, conditional cash payments offered to the girls who had already dropped out of school at the beginning of the trial made no difference on their risk of HIV or HSV-2 infection. These findings are important because they show that social protection programs such as social (i.e. unconditional) cash transfer programs or conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs can have a significant impact on the risk of HIV infection among adolescent girls in Africa.
Record created by