The effect of a conditional cash transfer on HIV incidence in young women in rural South Africa

Research published in The Lancet Global Health 1 November 2016, sought to find out if cash transfers interventions reduced the risk of HIV-infection. The study highlights the importance of keeping girls in school. 

Here is a summary of the trial.


Cash transfers have been proposed as an intervention to reduce HIV-infection risk for young women in sub-Saharan Africa. However, scarce evidence is available about their effect on reducing HIV acquisition. The research aimed to assess the effect of a conditional cash transfer on HIV incidence among young women in rural South Africa


Between March 5, 2011, and Dec 17, 2012, 10 134 young women were recruited and 2537 young women and their parents or guardians were enrolled to receive a cash transfer programme (n=1225) or not (control group; n=1223). At baseline, the median age of girls was 15 years (IQR 14–17) and 672 (27%) had reported to have ever had sex. 107 incident HIV infections were recorded during the study: 59 cases in 3048 person-years in the intervention group and 48 cases in 2830 person-years in the control group. HIV incidence was not significantly different between those who received a cash transfer (1·94% per person-years) and those who did not (1·70% per person-years; hazard ratio 1·17, 95% CI 0·80–1·72, p=0·42). Interpretation Cash transfers conditional on school attendance did not reduce HIV incidence in young women. School attendance significantly reduced risk of HIV acquisition, irrespective of study group. Keeping girls in school is important to reduce their HIV-infection risk.

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