Cash Transfer Program Reduces Risk of Sexual Debut Young People

March 4, 2014

Research demonstrates that government-led cash transfer programs reduced the risk of HIV among young people (15-25) in Kenya by postponing sexual debut. Interestingly, HIV reduction is not even a primary objective of the program.

This research shows that not only pilot programmes and pilot studies show the positive effects of cash transfers. Government-led cash transfer programmes, with not necessarily HIV reduction as its primary objective, also show similar results. This recent study demonstrated that the Government of Kenya's Cash Transfer for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (Kenya CT-OVC) by the government reduced the risk of HIV among young people by postponing sexual debut. The program provides an unconditional transfer of US$20 per month directly to the main caregiver in the household.

An evaluation of the program was implemented in 2007–2009 in seven districts. They collected information on sexual activity among individuals between 15–25 years of age. They used logistic regression, adjusted for the respondent's age, sex and relationship to caregiver, the age, sex and schooling of the caregiver and whether or not the household lived in Nairobi at baseline, to compare rates of sexual debut among young people living in program households with those living in control households who had not yet entered the program.

The results, adjusted for these covariates, show that the program reduced the odds of sexual debut by 31 percent. There were no statistically significant effects on secondary outcomes of behavioral risk such as condom use, number of partners and transactional sex. Since the CT-OVC provides cash to the caregiver and not to the child, and there are no explicit conditions associated with receipt, these impacts are indirect, and may have been achievedby keeping young people in school. The results suggest that large-scalenational social cash transfer programs with poverty alleviation objectives may have potential positive spillover benefits in terms of reducing HIV risk among young people in Eastern and Southern Africa.

Source: Handa S, Halpern CT, Pettifor A, Thirumurthy H (2014) The Government of Kenya's Cash Transfer Program Reduces the Risk of Sexual Debut among Young People Age 15-25. PLoS ONE 9(1): e85473. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0085473  

This news item has been published in the STOP AIDS NOW! E-news 
“Income for Prevention” (March 2014)