Social protection (i.e. cash transfers, free schools, parental support) has potential for adolescent HIV-prevention. We aimed to identify which social protection interventions are most effective and whether combined social protection has greater effects in South Africa.
In this prospective longitudinal study, we interviewed 3516 adolescents aged 10-18 between 2009 and 2012. We sampled all homes with a resident adolescent in randomly-selected census areas in four urban and rural sites in two South African provinces. We measured household receipt of fourteen social protection interventions and incidence of HIV-risk behaviors. Using gender-disaggregated multivariate logistic regression and marginal-effects analyses, we assessed respective contributions of interventions and potential combination effects.
Child-focused grants, free schooling, school feeding, teacher support, and parental monitoring were independently associated with reduced HIV-risk behavior incidence (OR 0.10-0.69). Strong effects of combination social protection were shown, with cumulative reductions in HIV-risk behaviors. For example, girls' predicted past-year incidence of economically-driven sex dropped from 11% with no interventions, to 2% amongst those with a child grant, free school and good parental monitoring. Similarly, girls' incidence of unprotected/casual sex or multiple-partners dropped from 15% with no interventions to 10% with either parental monitoring or school feeding, and to 7% with both interventions.
In real-world, high-epidemic conditions, 'combination social protection' shows strong HIV-prevention effects for adolescents and may maximize prevention efforts.This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License 4.0 (CC BY-NC-ND), which permits downloading and sharing the work provided it is properly cited. The work cannot be changed in any way or used commercially.