Deworming as HIV Prevention for Young Women: Evidence from Zimbabwe

Document Type

Working Paper


Nearly one-third of new HIV infections in Sub-Saharan Africa occur in young women, largely because their partners are from high-prevalence groups. Since marriage market matching is shaped by human capital, which is influenced by childhood health, can deworming girls lower their chances of contracting HIV as young women? To answer this question, I study Zimbabwe's school-based deworming program (2012-17), which substantially reduced rates of urogenital schistosomiasis. Using a difference-in-differences design, I find that 3 years after it began, young women’s HIV prevalence fell 2.7 percentage points (p.p., 44 percent) more in high-schistosomiasis districts. Human capital's effects on marriage market matching appear to explain the results: young women’s secondary school attendance rose 6.0 p.p. (9 percent), and they had less age-disparate and fewer sexual partners. These results show that a cheap treatment for a common childhood disease can also slow an expensive and deadly pandemic, substantially increasing deworming's estimated benefits.

Publication Date