Cash transfers for HIV prevention: what do young women spend it on? Mixed methods findings from HPTN 068

September 11, 2017
Authors: Catherine MacPhail, Nomhle Khoza, Amanda Selin, Aimée Julien, Rhian Twine, Ryan G. Wagner, Xavier Goméz-Olivé, Kathy Kahn, Jing Wang and Audrey Pettifor
Organization: BMC Public Health

Social grants have been shown to have positive effects on health and well-being, however, the question has remained whether this type of intervention would be appropriately directed to adolescent young women. This study is one of the first to document the spending patterns of young African women directly receiving cash transfers as part of HIV prevention efforts. Methods included both surveys and qualitative interviews. From the quantitative survey data it was clear that decision making about spending the cash transfer rested overwhelmingly with the young women themselves and that the purchasing power was used largely on toiletries, clothing and school materials. The qualitative interviews verified the survey results that there were no negative consequences of the cash transfer on young women’s well-being; rather, the cash provided independence and enhanced peer status and identity. These findings are significant at a time when increasing pressure is being felt to address structural drivers of HIV risk, and for female adolescents in particular. The results of this study show that adolescents themselves can be the recipients of social grants without the concerns about negative outcomes related to their vulnerable status as young people being realized.