Much work has been produced on the synergies between social protection initiatives and the effort to enhance prevention, care, treatment and mitigation of HIV/ AIDS in high prevalence countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. A 2009 publication from the OECD on social protection and pro-poor growth had a chapter dedicated to social protection in the context of HIV and AIDS (Nolan, 2009). A 2012 desk review commissioned by Unicef and EPRI for the Sub-Saharan Africa, identified and discussed 14 such initiatives amongst short-lasting RCTs, national and subnational initiatives and established, long-term programmes alike (Miller and Samson, 2012). Though not focused on HIV-inclusivity of programmes per se, a 2012 study of the World Bank already provided valuable information on such initiatives (Garcia and Moore, 2012).

In 2013 the ILO issued a technical note describing how the Social Protection Floors Recommendation could enable stronger HIV responses (ILO, 2013), and in 2016 it released a study with main findings of impacts on HIV response from initiatives under its Economic Empowerment Approach in Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa (ILO, 2016). In 2014 a desk review with a global coverage, was commissioned by the UNDP, and it identified 14 such studies – 13 of which taking place in countries from Eastern and Southern Africa (Lutz and Small, 2014).

More recently, in 2016, Toska et al. (2016) identified over 20 studies based on Sub-Saharan African experiences. Kidman and Heymann (2016) have mapped and analyzed available HIV-inclusive social protection initiatives form 25 high prevalence countries (all of them Sub-Saharan African). UNICEF, UNAIDS and IDS (2010) and UNAIDS (2014) have published policy guidelines on HIV-inclusiveness of social protection initiatives that date back to, respectively, 2010 and 2014.

As evidence on virtuous impacts accumulates, donors also seem to be endorsing such kind of initiatives, as opposed to traditional focus on exclusive biomedical approaches. This it is the case behind The Global Fund’s decision to open more space for initiatives set to develop synergies and innovations in national HIV responses, and to provide extra resources to high impact based innovations. Other relevant funders, such as the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), the President Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the World Bank Multi-Country AIDS Programme (MAP) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) also seem to be endorsing such kind of approaches (Poku and Bonnel, 2016). Between 2000 and 2014, for instance, Global resources for HIV/ AIDS in low and middle income countries rose from US$5 billion to US$ 20.2 billion, though delayed effects of the economic crisis have been compromising the availability of funds over the past two years (Ibid).

With growing evidence and funds, one should expect to see many social protection, and particularly cash transfer programmes from high prevalence countries, to undertake measures for enhancing their potential effects tackling the HIV epidemics.   


This blog post is published as part of the Social Protection and Health Series, sponsored by the German Development Cooperation within the EU SPS Initiative, and presents contributions from international agencies, government representatives and academic researchers.

Social Protection Programmes: 
  • Social assistance
    • Social transfers
      • Cash transfers
    • Social support services
Social Protection Topics: 
  • Coverage
  • Financing social protection
  • Programme design and implementation
  • Targeting
Cross-Cutting Areas: 
  • Health
    • Child health
    • HIV/AIDS
    • Maternal health
  • Poverty
  • Risk and vulnerability
  • Social inclusion
  • Africa - General
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
The views presented here are the author's and not's


Thanks for this Pedro - a very interesting and thought provoking article. 

If you or your colleagues would like to learn more about social protection, the Economic Policy Research Institute runs annual social protection courses in Cape Town, South Africa and Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The courses aim to build the capacity of government policymakers and officials, representatives from bilateral and multilateral agencies, programme practitioners, researchers, project managers and staff members from non-governmental organisations. The course will serve those who want to more effectively design, implement and manage social transfer programmes with the goal of reducing poverty and better achieving the Sustainable Developmental Goals. 

This year, our Cape Town course is taking place 7 - 18 August, and Chiang Mai 2 - 13 October.

Find out more here!