Deworming as HIV Prevention for Young Women: Evidence from Zimbabwe

Document Type

Working Paper


Young women comprise nearly one-third of new HIV infections in Sub-Saharan Africa, 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) that substantially reduced rates of urogenital schistosomiasis. Using a difference-in-differences design, I find that by 2015, young women's HIV prevalence fell 2.9 percentage points (p.p., 47 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 6.8 p.p. (10 percent), and their partners were closer in age and possibly fewer in number. 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



Childhood Health, Human Capital, Marriage Markets, HIV