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J Adolesc Health. 2011 May;48(5):523-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2010.08.007. Epub 2011 Feb 18.

Keeping adolescent orphans in school to prevent human immunodeficiency virus infection: evidence from a randomized controlled trial in Kenya.

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Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, 1516 E. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, USA.



We report the findings from a pilot study in western Kenya, using an experimental design to test whether comprehensive support used to keep adolescent orphans in school can reduce risk factors associated with infection with human immunodeficiency virus.


Adolescent orphans aged 12-14 years (N = 105) in Nyanza Province were randomized to condition, after stratifying by household, gender, and baseline survey report of sexual behavior. The intervention comprised school fees, uniforms, and a "community visitor" who monitored school attendance and helped to resolve problems that would lead to absence or dropout. Data were analyzed using generalized estimating equations over two time points, controlling for gender and age.


Compared with the control group, intervention students were less likely to drop out of school, commence sexual intercourse, or report attitudes supporting early sex. School support also increased prosocial bonding and gender equity attitudes.


After 1 year of exposure to the intervention, we found evidence suggesting that comprehensive school support can prevent school dropout, delay sexual debut, and reduce risk factors associated with infection with human immunodeficiency virus. Further research, with much larger samples, is needed to better understand factors that mediate the association between educational support and delayed sexual debut, and how gender might moderate these relationships.

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