This ongoing project involves a two-year randomized trial of a combined intervention to promote economic independence and HIV prevention among female adolescent orphans in Zimbabwe. Adolescent girls in sub-Saharan Africa are six times more likely to be infected with HIV than their male counterparts. This dramatic imbalance in HIV infection is driven by poor economic opportunities, which, coupled with persistent gender inequity, force girls-and particularly AIDS orphans-to depend on older male partners for their survival. Female adolescent orphans often turn to transactional and intergenerational relationships in which they have little or no control over sexual interactions, and are thus at extremely heightened risk for HIV infection
This study will determine the effectiveness of combining a direct HIV prevention intervention with one that targets the lack of economic opportunities as a root cause of poor adolescent health. Girls in the treatment group will be offered:
- A choice of vocational training options.
- A cash stipend to cover fees and basic necessities during the training program (contingent upon attendance and progress within the program).
- Guidance counseling, including linkages to jobs and micro-financing services.
- Life skills education, including HIV education, basic financial literacy, relationship negotiation skills-building, and reproductive health training.
The randomized evaluation design will allow a cost-benefit comparison of the combined intervention with state-of-the-art HIV prevention programs, which focus on behavior change that include education, skills building, and voluntary counseling and testing geared for young people.