Researchers in Botswana have found out that students who go through a longer secondary education tend to have an 8% lower risk of HIV infection a decade later. From about 25% to about 17% infected.
Senior author Jacob Bor, assistant professor at Boston University School of Public Health, stated that its difficult to isolate the effect of education on HIV risk from the complex web of co-factors for e.g. personal motivation, psychological traits, socio-economic status and family life. In the absence of large-scale trail data, natural experiments can provide evidence to guide policy.
For a ‘natural experiment’ the study used a recent school policy to determine the impact of increased years of secondary schooling on HIV infection.
The study consisted of 7018 men and women who were 18 years old at the time; the researchers studied the effect of an additional school year.
Individuals with an extra year of secondary schooling were eight percentage points less likely to test positive for HIV about a decade later, reported Reuters.
The researchers saw that the effect on an additional year of secondary schooling had a major impact on females, reducing infection risk by 12%.
“This study provides causal evidence that secondary education is an important causal determinant of HIV infection. Our results suggest that schooling should be considered alongside other proven interventions as part of a multi-pronged ‘combination’ HIV prevention strategy.”
By adding another year of secondary schooling t will yield economic benefits and health benefits. It should be a key priority for countries with HIV epidemics.
The study appeared in The Lancet Global Health journal.