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The Optimal Penalty for Sexually Transmitting HIV

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  • Andrew M. Francis
  • Hugo M. Mialon

Abstract

We develop an endogenous signaling model of sexual behavior and testing under risk of HIV infection to determine whether current criminal laws against exposure to HIV are efficient and to identify the socially optimal law. We consider a law to be socially optimal if it induces information revelation, so that non-fully-informed HIV transmission does not occur. We find that current HIV-specific criminal laws in the United States, which stipulate a single penalty for knowingly exposing another individual to risk of HIV infection, are not generally optimal. The optimal law stipulates a single penalty for knowingly or unknowingly transmitting HIV, and no penalty for exposing another individual to risk of infection without transmitting the virus. The optimal expected penalty is estimated to be approximately 1--2 years of prison. Copyright 2008, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew M. Francis & Hugo M. Mialon, 2008. "The Optimal Penalty for Sexually Transmitting HIV," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(2), pages 388-423.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:amlawe:v:10:y:2008:i:2:p:388-423
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/aler/ahn013
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    Cited by:

    1. Adeline Delavande & Dana Goldman & Neeraj Sood, 2010. "Criminal Prosecution and Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Related Risky Behavior," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 53(4), pages 741-782.
    2. Francis, Andrew M. & Mialon, Hugo M. & Peng, Handie, 2012. "In sickness and in health: Same-sex marriage laws and sexually transmitted infections," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(8), pages 1329-1341.
    3. Wilson, Nicholas, 2018. "Altruism in preventive health behavior: At-scale evidence from the HIV/AIDS pandemic," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 119-129.
    4. Francis, Andrew M. & Mialon, Hugo M., 2010. "Tolerance and HIV," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 250-267, March.

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