Study Measures Value of Savings Accounts for HIV+ Children in Uganda

Public Health

Analysts from the Brown School are studying data gathered in a six-year study to gauge the effectiveness of savings accounts in improving adherence to HIV treatment for children in Uganda.

Uganda is reporting close to 150,000 children living with HIV. Adherence to therapy among children and youth is poor, and has been in part attributed to poverty that is a barrier to treatment needs such as transportation to clinics and access to food and medication.

In a study funded by the National Institutes of Health, researchers recruited 702 families with HIV-positive children ages 10-16 to participate in the trial, which began in 2012 and ended last year. Half of the families were provided with child development accounts (CDAs) to address access to treatment gaps and other saving goals. The study provided the initial deposit for each participant’s account and matched his or her monthly savings. Participants and their families were also invited to attend workshops about starting family businesses, and each was paired with a peer-mentor.

The research team is now analyzing health, financial, and behavioral data about each child. The primary outcome is: adherence to HIV treatment regimens. Secondary outcomes include family functioning, sexual risk-taking and financial savings.

“To our knowledge, the proposed study is the first to test family economic empowerment interventions for HIV+ adolescents in Uganda so families would have the necessary finances to manage HIV/AIDS as a chronic illness,” wrote Fred M. Ssewamala, leader of the study and William E. Gordon Distinguished Professor at the Brown School.

The study’s protocol was published in the December issue of Contemporary Clinical Trials Communications.