Dr. Nina Harawa, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health professor of epidemiology, co-authored research published in the peer-reviewed journal AIDS and Behavior that found a 10% tax credit was associated with a 21% reduction in high-risk HIV behavior among single mothers.
The research - "Evidence for the Role of State-Level Economic Policy in HIV Risk Reduction: State Earned Income Tax Credit Generosity and HIV Risk Behavior Among Single Mothers" - is co-authored by Dr. Kimberly Danae Cauley Narain, of the Division of General Internal Medicine and Health Services Research, Department of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA (DGSOM). Harawa is also with DGSOM.
UCLA research finds that a refundable State-level Earned Income Tax Credit (SEITC) of 10% or above the Federal EITC was associated with a 21% relative risk reduction in reported behavior that could put single mothers at high risk for becoming infected with HIV during the previous year. Also, a 10 percentage-point increase in SEITC was linked to a 38% relative reduction in the same reported high-risk behavior the previous year.
Previous research has found a relationship between poverty and sexually transmitted infections such as HIV. Poverty, low-wage jobs, income inequality, and other economic structural factors may spread sexually transmitted infections by creating high-risk partner pools, facilitating transactional sex, and undermining women’s sexual agency.
The researchers used data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (2002-2018) and state-level data from the University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research to conduct a multi-state, multi-year analysis.
These findings demonstrate the impact of anti-poverty policy interventions such as providing cash aid to those in need. In this case, the reduction in HIV risk behavior was what would be expected for two or more hours of intensive HIV risk-reduction counseling, which few low-income single mothers can readily access. Thus, SEITC policy may be a strategy to reduce HIV among women with low socioeconomic status, particularly single mothers.
The Iris Cantor-UCLA Women’s Health Center funded this study.
Dr. Narain and Dr. Harawa are both affiliated with the UCLA Fielding School's Center for the Study of Racism, Social Justice, and Health, while Dr. Narain is also affiliated with the UCLA Fielding School's Center for Health Advancement. Dr. Harawa is also with the Department of Psychiatry, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science.