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Interventions to keep adolescent girls and young women in school, or support their return to school, are hypothesised to also reduce HIV risk. Such interventions are included in the DREAMS combination package of evidence-based interventions. Although there is evidence of reduced risky sexual behaviours, the impact on HIV incidence is unclear. We used nationally representative surveys to investigate the association between being in school and HIV prevalence.
Lack of education and an economic dependence on men are often suggested as important risk factors for HIV infection in women. The authors assessed the efficacy of a cash transfer programme for schooling to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections in young women. Based on their findings the authors conclude that 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.
This paper gives an overview of the HIV prevention battle in Southern Africa and supports the development of more balanced and innovative HIV prevention portfolio that adresses the real, immediate, and substantial risk facing young women from sub-Saharan African countries.