The effects of cash transfer programmes on HIV/AIDS prevention and care outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis of intervention studies


Background: Poverty and social inequality are risk factors for poor health outcomes in patients with HIV/AIDS. In addition to eligibility, cash transfer programmes can be divided into two categories: those with specific requirements (conditional cash transfers [CCTs]) and those without specific requirements (unconditional cash transfers). Common CCT requirements include health care (eg, undergoing an HIV test) and education (eg, children attending school). Trials assessing the effect of cash transfer programmes on HIV/AIDS outcomes have yielded divergent findings. This review aimed to summarise evidence to evaluate the effects of cash transfer programmes on HIV/AIDS prevention and care outcomes.

Methods: For this systematic review and meta-analysis, we searched PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, LILACS, WHO IRIS, PAHO-IRIS, BDENF, Secretaria Estadual de Saúde SP, Localizador de Informação em Saúde, Coleciona SUS, BINACIS, IBECS, CUMED, SciELO, and Web of Science up to Nov 28, 2022. We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that evaluated the effects of cash transfer programmes on HIV incidence, HIV testing, retention in HIV care, and antiretroviral therapy adherence, and conducted risk of bias and quality of evidence assessments using the Cochrane Risk of Bias tool and the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development, and Evaluations approach. A random-effects meta-analysis model was used to combine studies and calculate risk ratios (RRs). Subgroup analyses were performed using conditionality types (ie, school attendance or health care). The protocol was registered with PROSPERO, CRD42021274452.

Findings: 16 RCTs, which included 5241 individuals, fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Of these, 13 studies included conditionalities for receiving cash transfer programmes. The results showed that receiving a cash transfer was associated with lowered HIV incidence among individuals who had to meet health-care conditionalities (RR 0·74, 95% CI 0·56–0·98) and with increased retention in HIV care for pregnant women (1·14, 95% CI 1·03–1·27). No significant effect was observed for HIV testing (RR 0·45, 95% CI 0·18–1·12) or antiretroviral therapy adherence (1·13, 0·73–1·75). Lower risk of bias was observed for HIV incidence and having an HIV test. The strength of available evidence can be classified as moderate.

Interpretation: Cash transfer programmes have a positive effect on mitigating HIV incidence for individuals who have to meet health-care conditionalities and on increasing retention in HIV care for pregnant women. These results show the potential of cash transfer programmes for HIV prevention and care, especially among people in extreme poverty, and highlight that cash transfer programmes must be considered when developing policies for HIV/AIDS control, as indicated by the UNAIDS 95-95-95 target of the HIV care continuum.


Guimarães NS, Magno L, de Paula AA, Silliman M, Anderle RVR, Rasella D, Macinko J, de Souza LE, Dourado I




  • Epidemiology and Determinants of Health
    • Epidemiology
  • Population(s)
    • General HIV- population
  • Health Systems
    • Financial arrangements


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