Microfinance and HIV Prevention: Emerging Lessons from Rural South Africa
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.