RHIVA (Reducing HIV in Adolescents) was a groundbreaking, school-based, HIV-prevention initiative that was implemented in 14 schools in the rural district of Vulindlela, KwaZulu-Natal. Targeting at-risk 15-20 year old boys and girls, it tested whether a cash incentive would serve as a catalyst for engaging young learners in healthy lifestyle behaviours.
The RHIVA trial was completed in KwaZulu-Natal in December 2012. It will be tested in three SADC Member States–Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia.
What we know:
- Sexual abuse and violence against children and youth, especially girls, is unacceptably high in southern Africa (SAPS 2009, SAHRC 2007).
- Intergenerational sex and gender-based violence are recognized as key drivers of the HIV epidemic, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa where the incidence of HIV infection is on the increase, particularly among young women (Leclerc-Madlala 2004, Shisana et al 2005, UNAIDS 2007, Pettifor et al 2005).
- A 2008 study found that South African females aged 15 to 24 have an HIV infection rate four times that of males of the same age (Leclerc-Madlala 2008).
What we also know:
- Education is a strong protective factor with declines in HIV infection rates being associated with higher levels of education (UNICEF 2000, UNESCO 2009).
- A strengthened education sector response to HIV and AIDS and sexual abuse can make an important contribution to reducing the incidence of both (UNICEF 2000, UNESCO 2009).
- Cash transfers are used to promote desired behaviours and there is a growing body of evidence in support of incentivised/ reward-based behaviour change interventions (Baird et al 2009, Fernald et al 2008, Rivera et al 2004, Volpp et al 2009).
A strengthened education sector response to HIV and AIDS and sexual abuse can make an important contribution to reducing the incidence of both. The RHIVA programme is such a response: an innovative conditional cash transfer programme for adolescent students, it aims to reduce HIV infection through promoting healthy lifestyle behaviours, respect for self and others and a positive sense of future.
Positive findings from the RHIVA trial in KZN have resulted in the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands approving the replication of this model in three SADC countries, namely Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia. RHIVA regional is a three-year programme, beginning in March 2013.
To find out more about the RHIVA programme and its implementation in Southern Africa, watch our RHIVA DVD . The dvd covers the basic components of the programme and feedback from some of the principals, educators, learners and parents who took part. Happy viewing!