How Does a National Poverty Program Influence Sexual Debut among Kenyan Adolescents

Sudhanshu Handa, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Molly S. Rosenberg, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Audrey Pettifor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Harsha Thirumurthy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Cash transfer programs have recently emerged as promising HIV prevention tools; however, the pathways through which risk reduction occurs are not well understood. We examined data from a national cash transfer program in Kenya recently reporting delayed sexual debut among recipients. We explored three potential mediating pathways: schooling, socio-economic status (SES) and psychosocial status. To test for mediation, we used regression models of the main effect, controlling for the potential mediator, and used Sobel tests for the significance of mediation. Analyses were performed on the full evaluation cohort of 1306 adolescents, and stratified by gender. We report that schooling acted to mediate the relationship between grant receipt and sexual debut in males. No evidence of mediation was found for either SES or psychosocial status among males or females. Understanding the mediating pathways is important to better harness the potential for cash transfers to reduce HIV risk.

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Presented in Session 98: Influences on Intimate Behaviors