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The Optimal Penalty for Sexually Transmitting HIV

  • Andrew M. Francis
  • Hugo M. Mialon

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.

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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal American Law and Economics Review.

Volume (Year): 10 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 388-423

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Handle: RePEc:oup:amlawe:v:10:y:2008:i:2:p:388-423
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