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On the association between HIV knowledge and unsafe sexual behaviour in India


  • Smriti Agarwal
  • Pedro de Araujo


Purpose - HIV prevention campaigns have focused on condom distribution and the dissemination of HIV-related knowledge, with the goal to reduce risky sexual behavior. However, very little empirical work has been done to reveal any possible association between HIV-related knowledge and risky sexual behavior. Hence, the purpose of this paper is to estimate such associations, using demographic health survey data for India. Design/methodology/approach - The authors estimate multiple binary response models and calculate average partial effects of every treatment (HIV-related knowledge) on the outcome variable (risky sexual behavior) controlling for socioeconomic characteristics, location of residence, and state specific effects. Findings - Using data from the third wave of the national demographic survey, it is found that better HIV-related knowledge does not always promote safer sexual practices. While, better HIV knowledge increases the likelihood of condom use, it also increases the likelihood of pre-marital sex, and reduces the likelihood of abstinence. These effects are much stronger for males when compared to females. These results also suggest, albeit indirectly, that informational and condom distribution campaigns are not necessarily promoting safer sexual practices in India. Research limitations/implications - One possible limitation of this study is the possibility of endogeneity bias due to omitted variables or reverse causality. The authors follow the literature in the use of controls and interpreted results with caution. Originality/value - The paper is believed to be the first to derive empirical results relating HIV knowledge and risky sexual behaviour, using a population-based survey for India.

Suggested Citation

  • Smriti Agarwal & Pedro de Araujo, 2012. "On the association between HIV knowledge and unsafe sexual behaviour in India," International Journal of Development Issues, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 11(3), pages 227-234, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:ijdipp:v:11:y:2012:i:3:p:227-234

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