Unsafe Sex, AIDS, and Development
Much of Africa has been ravaged by the AIDS epidemic. There, heterosexual contact is the primary mode of transmission for the HIV virus. Even when access to condoms is good and their price low, a large fraction of young Africans continue to engage in unprotected sex. In this paper, we propose a simple two period rational model of sexual behavior that has the potential to explain why a large proportion of sexual activity in poor countries maybe unprotected. In the model economy, even when agents are perfectly cognizant of the risk involved in unsafe sexual activity, and fully internalize the effects of their own sexual behavior on their chance of catching the virus, they may rationally choose to engage in such risky behavior. Our results indicate that safe sexual practice is essentially a "normal good" and that development may be key to reducing HIV infectivity.
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