About My Health Careers Internship MedBlogs Contact us

For Teenage Girls in South Africa, HIV Risks Can Be Reduced By Government Grants

by Rukmani Krishna on November 28, 2013 at 12:13 AM
Font : A-A+

 For Teenage Girls in South Africa, HIV Risks Can Be Reduced By Government Grants

Government grants in Southern Africa can reduce major HIV risks for teenage girls, identifies a large-scale study led by Oxford University. Their findings are published in the journal, The Lancet Global Health.

The researchers say that half of all new HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa are among young people, and girls are two to three times more likely to be infected than boys. One of the major causes is 'sugar daddies': older boyfriends who give food, money or pay for school fees in return for sex. These men are more likely to be HIV-positive, and their young girlfriends less able to request that they use a condom.


The study finds that the risk of these sugar daddy relationships is significantly reduced in households that receive government child support grants. The longitudinal study, conducted in 2009-12, involved a team of researchers from UK and South African universities. They interviewed 3,515 teenagers, with 97% of them followed up a year later. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with children in four urban and rural areas in Mpumalanga and the Western Cape - all in very poor areas with high rates of HIV infection.

Households that received child-focused grants were compared with those that did not. The study found that teenage girls from households receiving grants were two-thirds less likely to take much older boyfriends, and half as likely to have sex in exchange for food, money or school fees.

The South African government currently gives a child support grant of around $35 a month per household to 11 million children under 18, and a foster child grant worth around $96 a month to another 600,000 nationally. These findings have major implications for HIV prevention in sub-Saharan Africa. Government grants in South Africa have expanded massively, and currently reach about 70% of eligible children according to studies by the Children's Institute at the University of Cape Town. If all those potentially eligible in South Africa were reached, 77,000 new relationships of teenage girls with sugar daddies could be prevented each year, says the study.

The study adds to emerging evidence from scientific trials from other African countries. In Malawi, cash transfers to teenage girls resulted in a lower prevalence of HIV because girls then chose to have younger sexual partners. In Tanzania, money was given conditionally on a negative sexually transmitted infection test result, which also resulted in lower HIV risks. However, this study in South Africa shows that such child-focused cash transfers can work not only in carefully controlled research trials, but also in the real world on a massive scale through government grant systems. Many sub-Saharan African countries are considering introducing social welfare systems for poor households with children, so these findings showing this is money well spent come at a particularly significant time.

Lead author Dr Lucie Cluver, from the Department of Social Policy and Intervention at the University of Oxford, said: 'This study shows that as long as they are given enough money to survive, girls will choose not to have a sugar daddy. It also shows how valuable it is to give not only to younger children but also to teenagers, who are most at risk of HIV-infection.'

Government grants do not provide the whole solution to the problem of HIV-infection among young people, adds the study. It also found that grants did not reduce risks for boys, and did not reduce other risks for girls, such as the likelihood of having unprotected sex or having sex when drunk.

Professor Mark Orkin, from the School of Public and Development Management, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, said: 'Child support grants do not make teenagers more sensible when it comes to safer sex. But what they can do is to provide enough financial security for girls that they do not have to choose their sexual partners through economic necessity'.

World AIDS day is approaching, 32 years after HIV was first clinically observed. The findings suggest there is not one single solution to the problem of HIV infection in sub-Saharan Africa. However, government grants can be a vital new tool in the fight against AIDS.

Source: Eurekalert

News A-Z
News Category
What's New on Medindia
First-Ever Successful Pig-To-Human Kidney Transplantation
World Osteoporosis Day 2021 -
Spirituality and Mental Health
View all

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

More News on:
Oral Health And AIDS AIDS/HIV AIDS/HIV - Epidemiology AIDS/HIV - Clinical Features AIDS/HIV - Health Education AIDS/HIV - Prevention And Transmission AIDS / HIV - Treatment AIDS/HIV- Lab Tests and Faqs Prostitution: Fresh Stakes in the Oldest Trade HIV Symptom 

Recommended Reading
Patients With HIV Have a Higher Risk of Virologic Failure
People with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) run a higher risk of virologic failure, even when ......
AIDS / HIV - Treatment
Encyclopedia section of medindia explains in brief about the treatment for AIDS/HIV...
"AIDS is an epidemic disease, a potentially preventable, deadly infection for which there is no cure...
AIDS/HIV - Clinical Features
Encyclopedia section of medindia gives general info about HIV Clinical Features...
AIDS/HIV - Epidemiology
AIDS or HIV is an epidemic disease, a potentially deadly infection that can be prevented with preca...
AIDS/HIV - Health Education
Encyclopedia section of medindia gives general info about AIDS information and health education....
AIDS/HIV - Prevention And Transmission
Encyclopedia section of medindia explains in brief about the prevention for AIDS/HIV...
Oral Health And AIDS
AIDS has taken on massive proportions in modern times. It is estimated that over 15 million people a...
Prostitution: Fresh Stakes in the Oldest Trade
Prostitution has broadened its base to include street prostitution, massage brothels, gigolo outcall...

Disclaimer - All information and content on this site are for information and educational purposes only. The information should not be used for either diagnosis or treatment or both for any health related problem or disease. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician for medical diagnosis and treatment. Full Disclaimer

© All Rights Reserved 1997 - 2021

This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use