So on the heels of my post a few days ago comes a brand new study in The Lancet where women in Malawi randomized to receive unconditional cash transfers were less likely to contract HIV or other STDs than their unpaid counterparts. Here is a very nice summary piece on the study.
The mechanism linking cash transfers to reduced HIV may have something to do with the fact that women with access to such resources need not depend on men for the same. That is, women who are cash strapped or who lack opportunities in the labor market may need to depend on relationships where the partner can support them financially. Financial support, in turn, may reduce their ability to negotiate safe sex practices (this is the so-called "transactional sex").
Cash transfer programs of this nature may not just be useful overseas. A forthcoming article in the Journal of Adolescent Health shows that young African American women in Atlanta who have boyfriends who give them gifts are less likely to use condoms than those without such boyfriends or those with boyfriends who go on to find another source of spending money. The authors conclude that "receiving spending money from a boyfriend is common among adolescent women in populations targeted by pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection prevention interventions, and may undermine interventions' effectiveness." (HT: Paula C for the Atlanta paper).