COMMUNITY HEALTH PROMOTERS (NEEP): SIMPLE NUTRITION MESSAGING FOR MOTHERS
NO SUGAR BY YOUNG 1OVE: INNOVATIVE HIV EDUCATION IN BOTSWANA
Across the world, and in Sub-Saharan Africa in particular, women and girls bear the brunt of HIV infections. Transactional, cross generational relationships, which are relatively common in Sub-Saharan Africa, are among the key drivers of the disproportionately high rates of HIV among young women and girls. This is because older men are more likely to have HIV than younger women and girls and younger women are less able to negotiate safe sex practices with older men.
In 2014, the Botswana based organization Young 1ove designed and pioneered an innovative program, No Sugar, to raise awareness among primary school girls about the dangers of “Sugar Daddies”—older partners offering financial gifts in exchange for a sexual relationship. No Sugar was premised on a 2005 experimental study which found that girls who were given information on HIV prevalence, disaggregated by age and gender, were 28% less likely to be pregnant than girls who received messages promoting abstinence only and girls in a control group. In the study, pregnancy was used as a proxy for unprotected sex, an indicator of exposure to HIV. To gauge whether the effects from the initial study could be replicated in a new context, Young 1ove opted to test No Sugar in Botswana.
We partnered with Young 1ove to design No Sugar, the evaluation of the program, and map out potential scale-up options for No Sugar across Botswana and Southern Africa. Ultimately, the evaluation produced ambiguous results, showing no clear positive effect on its intended outcomes. With no clear evidence of No Sugar’s impact on HIV or pregnancy, Young 1ove and it’s partners, including Evidence Action, made a decision not to scale the No Sugar program. We are proud of that decision, and have shared lessons from our experience with No Sugar in a two-part blog series.