International Mentored Scientist Award

Understanding the impact of an income generating agricultural intervention on sexual behaviour and psychological well being of adolescent girls and young women living in a high HIV urban setting in Western Kenya

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Background: More than 40% of all new HIV infections are among adolescents and of these nearly two-thirds occur in adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) living in sub-Saharan Africa. Food insecurity, poverty and parental HIV/AIDS have been identified as important drivers of HIV risk and vulnerability among AGYW. Household level interventions that target poverty and food insecurity offer many advantages over individual centered approaches by reducing AGYW sexual risk taking and improving psychosocial wellbeing. Unfortunately few studies have rigorously tested the perceived impact of and the pathways by which such interventions may impact adolescents’ vulnerability to HIV, sexual risk taking, and psychological well being. The overall objective of this application is to explore how a household-level income generating agricultural intervention known as Shamba Maisha (SM) may affect sexual behavior, psychological well being, and use of Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) and HIV services among AGYW aged 15 to 21 years. Methods: We will employ a qualitative study design. The study will take place in Kisumu County in western Kenya, which has the highest HIV incidence and prevalence among adolescents in Kenya. Approximately 30 AGYW aged 15–21 years and their primary guardians will be asked to participate in in-depth interviews. Anticipated results: We believe that SM may have the potential to improve health behaviors (such as sexual risk behaviors and psychosocial well being) among adolescents through a number of pathways such as food security, household wealth, school attendance, and improved intra-household functioning will be explored through the proposed research project. My long-term goal is to obtain crucial information needed for the adoption, adaptation and scale-up of the SM intervention for AGYW.