ARVs and cash too: caring and supporting people living with HIV/AIDS with the Malawi Social Cash Transfer

Trop Med Int Health. 2012 Feb;17(2):204-10. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3156.2011.02898.x. Epub 2011 Oct 20.


Objectives: The Malawian Social Cash Transfer Scheme (SCT) is a social protection programme for ultra poor and labour-constrained households, including people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). We aimed to gain insight into respondents' circumstances prior to becoming transfer beneficiaries and to examine how PLWHA used transfers to support themselves and their families.

Methods: We conducted 24 semi-structured qualitative interviews with PLWHA who were also SCT beneficiaries and living in villages where the scheme was operational in 2008.

Results: Respondents were destitute and lacked food and basic necessities prior to the transfer. As cash recipients, the majority of respondents reported positive impacts on health, food security and economic well-being as well as an improved ability to care for their families.

Conclusion: Important unanswered programmatic questions persist, such as 'What is the appropriate transfer level?' And 'Should recipients graduate from the scheme?' Moreover, the scheme's long-term sustainability is still unclear. Nevertheless, this analysis presents evidence describing how PLWHA used cash transfers to improve their situation and mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS on families.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / economics
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-HIV Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Employment
  • Family
  • Family Characteristics*
  • Female
  • Food Supply
  • HIV Infections / economics*
  • Health
  • Health Services Accessibility / economics*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Malawi
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Poverty*
  • Social Welfare / economics*


  • Anti-HIV Agents