Course helps girls in Botswana avoid HIV and “sugar daddies”
Youth-to-youth program teaches girls about the increased odds of contracting HIV from older men
After graduating from MIT, Noam Angrist ’13 was conducting economics research at the University of Botswana on a Fulbright Scholarship, where he witnessed firsthand a widespread problem.
The university provides its students monthly stipends. When funds run low at the end of each month, groups of “sugar daddies” — older men who offer girls gifts and money in exchange for sexual relationships — linger near the university to attract female students.
“This phenomenon [happens] every month like clockwork,” Angrist says. “Guys in fancy cars waiting and younger girls getting their high heels on and walking to the edge of university.”
In a country with the third-highest HIV prevalence among adults worldwide, at 24 percent, it’s estimated that more than 40 percent of sugar daddies have HIV. And for each year older a male partner is than the female, the risk of unprotected sex increases 28 percent. Yet these risks were virtually unknown among Botswanan girls.
In his MIT days, Angrist, whose studies focused on analyzing the efficacy of global education programs, had read a study by the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) about sugar-daddy-risk education in Africa. The study estimated that a 40-minute course about the risks of sugar daddies, presented at more than 70 schools in Kenya, had reduced teen pregnancy by 28 percent over two years. But that course hadn’t been implemented beyond the trial.
Compelled by that research, and using the course as a template, Angrist and his co-founders designed a course for Botswana schools called “No Sugar” that teaches girls about the high likelihood of contracting HIV from these older men.
Jameel Abdul Latif Poverty Action Lab
Joshua Angrist's website
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