Intervention with Microfinance for AIDS and Gender Equity (IMAGE) Study

Category 1

HIV infection and intimate-partner violence share a common risk environment in much of southern Africa. The aim of the Intervention with Microfinance for AIDS and Gender Equity (IMAGE) study was to assess a structural intervention that combined a microfinance programme with a gender and HIV training curriculum.

Goal of the Practice
  • To assess effects of a combined microfinance and training intervention on HIV risk behavior among young female participants in rural South Africa.
Core Components
  • The IMAGE intervention consisted of two components. The first was group based microfinance, in which groups of five women received loans to establish small businesses. Further credit was offered when all women in these 'solidarity groups' repaid their loans.
  • The second component consisted of a gender and HIV training curriculum, which was integrated into established meetings of 40 women that took place every 2 weeks for approximately 1 year.
Noteworthy Results
  • After 2 years of follow-up, when compared with controls, young participants had: Higher levels of HIV-related communication
  • Were more likely to have accessed voluntary counseling and testing
  • Less likely to have had unprotected sex at last intercourse with a non-spousal partner
  • Qualitative data suggest a greater acceptance of intra-household communication about HIV and sexuality
  • Although women noted challenges associated with acceptance of condoms by men, increased confidence and skills associated with participation in the intervention supported their introduction in sexual relationships
Lessons Learned
  • In addition to impacts on economic well-being, women's empowerment and intimate partner violence, interventions addressing the economic and social vulnerability of women may contribute to reductions in HIV risk behavior
Focus Areas
Implemented By
Rural AIDS & Development Action Research Program, School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa,
Participating Organization
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine - London, UK
South Africa
Target Population
  • Adults (over 18)
  • Adolescents (ages 13-17)
  • Females
100 - 500
Implementation Years
01/2001 - ongoing