Cash transfers for HIV prevention: Considering their potential

Lori Heise, Brian Lutz, Meghna Ranganathan, Charlotte Watts Journal of the International AIDS Society, 2013; Volume 16: 18615 Download publication

Cash payments to vulnerable individuals or households have garnered attention as a means to reduce poverty, improve health and achieve other development-related outcomes. Recent evidence from Malawi and Tanzania suggests that cash transfers can impact HIV-related behaviours and outcomes and, therefore, could serve as an important addition to HIV prevention efforts.

This article reviews the current evidence on cash transfers for HIV prevention and suggests unresolved questions for further research. Gaps in the evidence include:

  • understanding more about the mechanisms and pathways through which cash transfers affect HIV-related outcomes
  • addressing key operational questions, including the potential feasibility and the costs and benefits of different models of transfers and conditionality
  • evaluating and enhancing the wider impacts of cash transfers on health and development.

Projects such as WRHI’s Swa Koteka address these important questions. Swa Koteka evaluates the impact of cash transfers on HIV risk among adolescent girls in rural South Africa, including:

  • the economic motivators of transactional sex
  • the impact of friendship networks on young women’s sexual behaviour and condom use
  • a full economic costing of the intervention.

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