Some HIV prevention programmes for young people are moving beyond discussing only sexual abstinence and using condoms. The social and economic challenges that make HIV and AIDS threats to young people also need to be tackled. In response, the Siyakha Nentsha (isiZulu for ‘building with young people’) programme was tested by random assignment in secondary schools in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It provided strategies to enhance participants’ financial planning skills, social support, HIV/AIDS and reproductive health knowledge and skills, and future life options.
Compared to the control group, all Siyakha Nentsha participants were significantly more likely to know of a place to get condoms, report large increases in knowledge of social grant eligibility requirements, have improved budgeting and planning skills, and were more likely to have attempted to open a bank account. Siyakha Nentsha girls reported feeling significantly higher self-esteem and more confidence in their ability to get a condom if they needed one. Siyakha Nentsha boys were significantly more likely to have remained sexually abstinent between survey rounds, and those who did have sex reported fewer sexual partners.
Compared with participants who received the partial Siyakha Nentsha package (health and social capabilities), girls with the full Siyakha Nentsha package (financial capabilities added) felt greater levels of social inclusion in their communities and were more likely to have obtained their national birth certificate. Among program boys, those receiving the full Siyakha Nentsha package (with financial education) were more likely to have undertaken an income-generating activity between survey rounds.