Pay young women in Malawi to prevent HIV infection?

The Guardian reports: “Cash payments help cut HIV infection rate in young women, study finds: Research in Malawi finds girls who receive regular payments are able to resist attentions of older men and avoid infection.” The headline pretty much says it all … or does it?

The Guardian report is based on a study that appeared in The Lancet: “Effect of a cash transfer programme for schooling on prevalence of HIV and herpes simplex type 2 in Malawi: a cluster randomised trial.” It’s accompanied with an editorial, “Paying to prevent HIV infection in young women?”

The study’s interpretation of the findings is the telltale heart of the matter:

Cash transfer programmes can reduce HIV and HSV-2 infections in adolescent schoolgirls in low-income settings. Structural interventions that do not directly target sexual behaviour change can be important components of HIV prevention strategies.

Pay to prevent HIV infection in young women? Yes. But the larger lesson is that women’s health and wellbeing is always part of the whole life of each woman and girl as well as of women and girls, more generally. HIV transmission is not ‘simply’ a consequence of sexual behavior, whatever that is. It emerges from the whole life. Paying to prevent HIV infection in young women is an investment in women’s education and in women’s autonomy, and that is a real investment in a better future and an improved present.


2 thoughts on “Pay young women in Malawi to prevent HIV infection?

  1. Reblogged this on FreedomTrapped and commented:
    It would appear that a whole host of problems msy result out of this. given some level of financial security without lifting a finger what girl would aspire for a career or even marriage. many would still have children but remain married to the state. just thinking

  2. Thanks for reading and reblogging! As to dependence, on one hand anything can happen, but the evidence from those countries, and regions, that have tried to include economic incentives into specifically women’s health programs suggests otherwise.

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