What is the potential of cash transfers to strengthen families affected by HIV and AIDS?

A review of the evidence on impacts and key policy debates

Michelle Adato, Lucy Bassett
renewal policy brief

The international trend toward investing in social protection in poor countries has reached sub-Saharan Africa, taking on a new urgency as HIV and AIDS interact with other drivers of poverty to simultaneously destabilize livelihoods systems and family and community safety nets. A new focus on the vulnerability of families, and threats to the human capital of children with lifelong and intergenerational consequences, has accelerated international, regional, and national commitments to social protection programs in heavily AIDS-affected countries. Social protection in the form of cash transfers—which can provide support for food purchases, transportation, education, health care and other expenses—is receiving increasing recognition as an important part of a comprehensive AIDS response. The urgency of cash assistance for food purchases is underscored by emerging evidence on the effect of good nutrition to slowing the progression of AIDS, and to the effectiveness of antiretroviral therapy, with consequences not only for people living with HIV but also their children, broader families and communities.