Global Resources

How does a national poverty programme influence sexual debut among Kenyan adolescents?

Author: S. Handa, T. Palermo, M. Rosenberg
Publisher: Routledge Taylor and Francis Group
Publication Date: Jan 2016

Cash transfer programmes have recently emerged as promising interventions for HIV prevention among adolescents in Africa. However, the precise mechanisms through which risk reduction occurs are not well understood. This report seeks to better understand the relationship between cash transfer and HIV risk by exploring three pathways through which cash transfer could affect sexual debut: schooling, socio-economic status and psycho-social status. Sexual debut is argued to be an appropriate measure since it has shown to have important implications for HIV risk. 

The study examines data on 1459 adolescents and youth from the Kenya Cash Transfer for Orphans and Vulnerable Children, a programme which has shown to have an effect on postponing sexual debut among young people aged 15-25. However, none of the hypothesised mediators were found to greatly alter the main effect. 

The results show gendered patterns of effects, which the authors argue may explain why no mediating effects of cash transfer were observed. Further, the authors argue that overall results suggest that cash transfer programmes in Africa can contribute to the reduction of HIV related risk behaviours. 

Adapted from authors' summary.