There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that social protection can reduce the risk of HIV infection by addressing some of the key drivers of HIV infections among children and adolescents, such as poverty, gender inequality and lack of access to education. Social protection programmes that can have significant positive impacts on HIV among these populations include a range of economic, social, and psychosocial provisions administered by governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and communities.
Cash incentive initiatives have received a lot of attention in recent years. It has been found that cash transfers plus social protection interventions reduce HIV-risk behaviour and psychosocial problems for children. In addition, cash transfers have been found to reduce the risk of HIV infection among adolescents, particularly among girls.
Interventions that focus on building up individual, family and community resilience and supporting existing protective factors show that it is possible to stop the devastating cycle of escalating risk and harm. Provision of unconditional social protection to adolescents is particularly effective for those most at risk of HIV. In addition, social protection provisions are associated with significant improvements in HIV treatment adherence among adolescents. Combinations of social protection provisions are associated with greater improvements in adherence to treatment, compared with single provisions alone.
Studies show that cash transfers and school support are cost effective. Considerable evidence also exists that social protection can be paid for by manageable budgetary commitments from different government departments such as health, education and social welfare.