Effect of savings-led economic empowerment on HIV preventive practices among orphaned adolescents in rural Uganda: results from the Suubi-Maka randomized experiment.
ABSTRACT: Improving economic resources of impoverished youth may alter intentions to engage in sexual risk behaviors by motivating positive future planning to avoid HIV risk and by altering economic contexts contributing to HIV risk. Yet, few studies have examined the effect of economic-strengthening on economic and sexual behaviors of orphaned youth, despite high poverty and high HIV infection in this population. Hierarchal longitudinal regressions were used to examine the effect of a savings-led economic empowerment intervention, the Suubi-Maka Project, on changes in orphaned adolescents' cash savings and attitudes toward savings and HIV-preventive practices over time. We randomized 346 Ugandan adolescents, aged 10-17 years, to either the control group receiving usual orphan care plus mentoring (n?=?167) or the intervention group receiving usual orphan care plus mentoring, financial education, and matched savings accounts (n?=?179). Assessments were conducted at baseline, 12, and 24 months. Results indicated that intervention adolescents significantly increased their cash savings over time (b?=?$US12.32, ±1.12, p?
Project description:In this study, we examined the nonkin support networks of orphaned adolescents participating in a family-based economic-strengthening intervention in HIV-impacted communities in Uganda. We analyzed data from a cluster randomized experimental study for orphaned adolescents aged 11-17 years. Participants were randomly assigned to either the control condition, which received bolstered standard of care (BSOC) services, or the treatment condition, which received BSOC services plus an economic-strengthening intervention. We conducted binary logistic regression analyses to examine the effect of the intervention on participants' nonkin support networks. Results indicated that the existing social support networks for orphaned adolescents are small, limited, and usually comprised individuals with similar socioeconomic situations and challenges. Because orphaned adolescents are socially isolated and the threshold for nonkin supportive services is very low, the BSOC services provided to the control condition appeared to be instrumental in their survival and well-being. Availability of personal savings was associated with higher odds of identifying at least one supportive nonkin tie. The extended family system is still the primary and major source of social support to orphaned children in HIV-affected communities. In the absence of public safety nets, building social assets, over and above offering economic opportunities to extended families supporting orphaned children, is critical.
Project description:AIDS-orphaned children and adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa have inadequate access to basic services, including health and education. Using a qualitative approach, the study explores the meaning of education in rural Uganda, obstacles faced by AIDS-orphaned adolescents and their caregivers to access secondary education, and the potential of an economic empowerment intervention SEED in addressing the challenges of accessing educational opportunities for AIDS-orphaned adolescents. The findings come from 29 semi-structured interviews conducted with eleven adolescents study participants, four caregivers and fourteen community leaders involved in the pilot SEED intervention. Study participants and community members indicated that the savings accounts offer a unique opportunity for orphaned adolescents to stay in school and imagine the future with optimism.
Project description:To assess the effect of a savings-led economic empowerment intervention on viral suppression among adolescents living with HIV. Using data from Suubi?+?Adherence, a longitudinal, cluster randomized trial in southern Uganda (2012-2017), we examine the effect of the intervention on HIV RNA viral load, dichotomized between undetectable (<?40 copies/ml) and detectable (??40 copies/ml). Cluster-adjusted comparisons of means and proportions were used to descriptively analyze changes in viral load between study arms while multi-level modelling was used to estimate treatment efficacy after adjusting for fixed and random effects. At 24-months post intervention initiation, the proportion of virally suppressed participants in the intervention cohort increased tenfold (?T2-T0?=?+?10.0, p?=?0.001) relative to the control group (?T2-T0?=?+?1.1, p?=?0.733). In adjusted mixed models, simple main effects tests identified significantly lower odds of intervention adolescents having a detectable viral load at both 12- and 24-months. Interventions addressing economic insecurity have the potential to bolster health outcomes, such as HIV viral suppression, by improving ART adherence among vulnerable adolescents living in low-resource environments. Further research and policy dialogue on the intersections of financial security and HIV treatment are warranted.
Project description:Children comprise the largest proportion of the population in sub-Saharan Africa. Of these, millions are orphaned. Orphanhood increases the likelihood of growing up in poverty, dropping out of school, and becoming infected with HIV. Therefore, programs aimed at securing a healthy developmental trajectory for these orphaned children are desperately needed. We conducted a two-arm cluster-randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness of a family-level economic strengthening intervention with regard to school attendance, school grades, and self-esteem in AIDS-orphaned adolescents aged 12-16 years from 10 public rural primary schools in southern Uganda. Children were randomly assigned to receive usual care (counseling, school uniforms, school lunch, notebooks, and textbooks), "bolstered" with mentorship from a near-peer (control condition, n?=?167), or to receive bolstered usual care plus a family-level economic strengthening intervention in the form of a matched Child Savings Account (Suubi-Maka treatment arm, n?=?179). The two groups did not differ at baseline, but 24 months later, children in the Suubi-Maka treatment arm reported significantly better educational outcomes, lower levels of hopelessness, and higher levels of self-concept compared to participants in the control condition. Our study contributes to the ongoing debate on how to address the developmental impacts of the increasing numbers of orphaned and vulnerable children and adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa, especially those affected by HIV/AIDS. Our findings indicate that innovative family-level economic strengthening programs, over and above bolstered usual care that includes psychosocial interventions for young people, may have positive developmental impacts related to education, health, and psychosocial functioning.
Project description:PURPOSE:Using a clustered randomized controlled trial design, we evaluated whether support to keep Kenyan orphaned adolescents in school reduces the risk of HIV infection. METHODS:Participants included 835 orphaned boys and girls in grades 7 and 8 (mean age at the baseline = 15 years) in western Kenya. Primary schools (N?=?26) were randomized to the study condition. Intervention participants received school uniforms, payment of tuition when they transitioned into high school, and nurse visits to monitor school absenteeism and provide assistance to stay in school. Annual surveys were conducted from 2011 through 2014, and HIV and herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) biomarker data were collected at the baseline and the end line. Data were analyzed using survey logistic regression or generalized estimating equations controlling for age, gender, and socioeconomic status. RESULTS:Intervention and control groups were equivalent at the baseline and did not differ on new HIV or HSV-2 incidence at the end line. The school support intervention increased school retention but had few HIV-related effects, except increased circumcision among male participants and reduced likelihood of transactional sex. CONCLUSIONS:Despite a strong study design, we found no relative reduction in HIV or HSV-2 infection after 3 years of intervention implementation. New incidence of HIV was lower than expected in this region among youth whose average age at end line was 18 years (range = 14-23). Although support for secondary school promises many benefits for vulnerable youth, our study adds to the growing body of research showing weak evidence for its effectiveness as an HIV prevention.
Project description:<b>Background: </b>Children who have lost a parent to HIV/AIDS, known as AIDS orphans, face multiple stressors affecting their health and development. Family economic empowerment (FEE) interventions have the potential to improve these outcomes and mitigate the risks they face. We present efficacy and cost-effectiveness analyses of the Bridges study, a savings-led FEE intervention among AIDS-orphaned adolescents in Uganda at four-year follow-up.<br><br><b>Methods: </b>Intent-to-treat analyses using multilevel models compared the effects of two savings-led treatment arms: Bridges (1:1 matched incentive) and BridgesPLUS (2:1 matched incentive) to a usual care control group on the following outcomes: self-rated health, sexual health, and mental health functioning. Total per-participant costs for each arm were calculated using the treatment-on-the-treated sample. Intervention effects and per-participant costs were used to calculate incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs).<br><br><b>Findings: </b>Among 1,383 participants, 55% were female, 20% were double orphans. Mean age was 12 years at baseline. At 48-months, BridgesPLUS significantly improved self-rated health, (0.25, 95% CI 0.06, 0.43), HIV knowledge (0.21, 95% CI 0.01, 0.41), self-concept (0.26, 95% CI 0.09, 0.44), and self-efficacy (0.26, 95% CI 0.09, 0.43) and lowered hopelessness (-0.28, 95% CI -0.43, -0.12); whereas Bridges improved self-rated health (0.26, 95% CI 0.08, 0.43) and HIV knowledge (0.22, 95% CI 0.05, 0.39). ICERs ranged from $224 for hopelessness to $298 for HIV knowledge per 0.2 standard deviation change.<br><br><b>Conclusions: </b>Most intervention effects were sustained in both treatment arms at two years post-intervention. Higher matching incentives yielded a significant and lasting effect on a greater number of outcomes among adolescents compared to lower matching incentives at a similar incremental cost per unit effect. These findings contribute to the evidence supporting the incorporation of FEE interventions within national social protection frameworks.
Project description:Prior studies demonstrated the effect of family-based economic empowerment intervention Suubi on reducing attitudes approving sexual risk-taking behavior among orphaned adolescents in Uganda. To understand mechanisms of change, the article examines the effect of Suubi intervention on family support variables and their role in mediating the change in adolescents' attitudes toward sexual risk-taking.The Suubi study used a cluster-randomized experimental design with three waves, and included 283 orphaned adolescents from 15 primary schools in Rakai, Uganda. First, using mixed-effects models, the study tested for the effect of intervention on family support variables. Second, using mediation analysis, the study examined whether the change in sexual risk-taking attitudes was mediated by the change in family support.Compared with adolescents from the control group, at wave 2, adolescents in the treatment group reported higher levels of perceived support from caregivers, were more willing to talk to caregivers about their problems, and felt more comfortable talking about sexual risk behaviors with their caregivers. Mediation analysis demonstrated that the improvement in perceived support from caregivers at wave 2 accounted for 16.8% of the reduction in adolescents' attitudes toward sexual risk-taking behavior at wave 3 (z = -2.21, p < .05).A family-based economic empowerment intervention Suubi may have the potential to increase family support to orphaned adolescents. Interventions aimed at strengthening existing social networks and improving connectedness with surviving family members may be critical in preventing sexual risk-taking behavior among orphaned adolescents in Uganda, which is characterized by low resources.
Project description:This study examines the impact of a family economic strengthening intervention on parenting stress among caregivers of AIDS-orphaned children in Uganda. The study uses data from a 4-year (2008-2012) NIMH randomized clinical trial for AIDS-orphaned children known as Suubi-Maka (N=346 dyads). Child-caregiver dyads from 10 comparable primary schools were randomly assigned to either the control group (n=167 dyads) receiving usual care for school-going orphaned children (such as food aid and scholastic materials) or the treatment group (n=179 dyads) receiving a family economic strengthening intervention (focused on a matched savings account), financial planning and management workshops over and above the usual care. Interviews were conducted at baseline, 12 months and 24 months follow-up. This study uses data from baseline and 24 months post-intervention. We use multivariate regression methods, controlling for socioeconomic characteristics. At 24 months, caregivers in the treatment group reported significantly lower levels of parenting stress compared to caregivers in the control group. Findings from this study point to the potential of a family economic strengthening intervention to improve caregiver's psychosocial wellbeing and that of their families. We conclude that programs and policies aimed at improving the psychosocial wellbeing of families caring for AIDS-orphaned children may consider incorporating economic strengthening components in their programming to help support these kinds of families, caregivers of AIDS-orphaned children especially those residing in developing countries.
Project description:Adolescents and young adults in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are particularly vulnerable to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) infection. Adolescents orphaned as a direct result of HIV/AIDS are at an elevated risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections. However, limited empirical evidence exists on HIV knowledge and prevention programs, especially those designed to address HIV information gaps among adolescents. This study evaluates the effect of a peer mentorship program provided in addition to other supportive services on HIV/AIDS knowledge, beliefs, and prevention attitudes, among school-going orphaned adolescents in southern Uganda. We utilize data from the Bridges to the Future Study, a 5-year longitudinal randomized experimental study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Out of the 1410 adolescents enrolled in the study (average age = 12.7 at study initiation), 855 of them participated in a nine-session, curriculum based peer mentorship program. We analyzed data collected at baseline and 12-months post intervention initiation. The results from bivariate and regression analysis indicate that, controlling for socioeconomic characteristics, adolescents who participated in a peer mentorship program were more likely than non-participants to report increased scores on HIV/AIDS knowledge(b = .86, 95%CI = .47 - 1.3, p ? .001); better scores on desired HIV/AIDS-related beliefs (b = .29, 95%CI = .06 - .52, p ? .01); and better scores on HIV/AIDS prevention attitudes (b = .76, 95%CI = .16 - 1.4, p ? .01). Overall, the study findings point to the potential role a of peer mentorship program in promoting the much-desired HIV/AIDS knowledge, beliefs, and prevention attitudes among orphaned adolescents. Future programs and policies that support AIDS-orphaned adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa should consider incorporating peer mentoring programs that provide correct, age, and culturally appropriate HIV information to help protect orphaned adolescents and reduce the risk of HIV infections.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Asset-based economic empowerment interventions, which take an integrated approach to building human, social, and economic capital, have shown promise in their ability to reduce HIV risk for young people, including adolescent girls, in sub-Saharan Africa. Similarly, community and family strengthening interventions have proven beneficial in addressing mental health and behavioral challenges of adolescents transitioning to adulthood. Yet, few programs aimed at addressing sexual risk have applied combination interventions to address economic stability and mental health within the traditional framework of health education and HIV counseling/testing. This paper describes a study protocol for a 5-year, NIMH-funded, cluster randomized-controlled trial to evaluate a combination intervention aimed at reducing HIV risk among adolescent girls in Uganda. The intervention, titled Suubi4Her, combines savings-led economic empowerment through youth development accounts (YDA) with an innovative family strengthening component delivered via Multiple Family Groups (MFG). METHODS:Suubi4Her will be evaluated via a three-arm cluster randomized-controlled trial design (YDA only, YDA?+?MFG, Usual Care) in 42 secondary schools in the Central region of Uganda, targeting a total of 1260 girls (ages 15-17 at enrollment). Assessments will occur at baseline, 12, 24, and 36 months. This study addresses two primary outcomes: 1) change in HIV risk behavior and 2) change in mental health functioning. Secondary exploratory outcomes include HIV and STI incidence, pregnancy, educational attainment, financial savings behavior, gender attitudes, and self-esteem. For potential scale-up, cost effectiveness analysis will be employed to compare the relative costs and outcomes associated with each study arm. CONCLUSIONS:Suubi4Her will be one of the first prospective studies to examine the impact and cost of a combination intervention integrating economic and social components to reduce known HIV risk factors and improve mental health functioning among adolescent girls, while concurrently exploring mental health as a mediator in HIV risk reduction. The findings will illuminate the pathways that connect economic needs, mental health, family support, and HIV risk. If successful, the results will promote holistic HIV prevention strategies to reduce risk among adolescent girls in Uganda and potentially the broader sub-Saharan Africa region. TRIAL REGISTRATION:Clinical Trials NCT03307226 (Registered: 10/11/17).