Paper

Microfinance and HIV Prevention: Emerging Lessons from Rural South Africa

Examining the operational integration of microfinance and HIV prevention
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This article reviews the evidence supporting an enhanced role for microfinance in HIV prevention activities, highlighting the challenges, emerging lessons, and limitations.Microfinance, as a development intervention, has the potential to concretely engage structural vulnerabilities to HIV infection at a number of levels. As per the paper, there are three main areas where microfinance and HIV/AIDS clearly intersect:

  • In the development of strategies that reduce the financial impact of HIV/AIDS on MFIs;
  • Potential for microfinance to reduce the negative impact of AIDS on household economies;
  • Role of microfinance in HIV prevention.

The article further describes the Intervention with Microfinance for AIDS and Gender Equity (IMAGE), a South African case study. IMAGE is a structural intervention for HIV, specifically designed to explore the interaction between microfinance, gender inequalities, and HIV prevention. The IMAGE intervention:

  • Integrates a curriculum of gender awareness and HIV education within an established microfinance program;
  • Seeks to create an enabling environment for behavior change that engages poverty and gender-based inequalities as key structural factors driving the HIV epidemic;
  • Brings together complementary expertise from a South African MFI and a university-based HIV/AIDS research and training program.

Finally, the paper:

  • Highlights the key challenges, lessons and limitations emerging from the program to date;
  • Discusses three themes of relevance to microfinance program planning and implementation:
    • Structure and content of program's activities;
    • Nature of partnerships and implementations strategies;
    • Issues of policy relevance to wider application of the IMAGE approach within the microfinance sector.