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HIV Breakthroughs and Risk Sexual Behavior

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  • Dana Goldman
  • Darius Lakdawalla
  • Neeraj Sood

Abstract

Recent breakthroughs in the treatment of HIV have coincided with an increase in infection rates and an eventual slowing of reductions in HIV mortality. These trends may be causally related, if treatment improves the health and functional status of HIV+ individuals and allows them to engage in more sexual risk-taking. We examine this hypothesis empirically using access to health insurance as an instrument for treatment status. We find that treatment results in more sexual risk-taking by HIV+ adults, and possibly more of other risky behaviors like drug abuse. This relationship implies that breakthroughs in treating an incurable disease like HIV can increase precautionary behavior by the uninfected and thus reduce welfare. We also show that, in the presence of this effect, treatment and prevention are social complements for incurable diseases, even though they are substitutes for curable ones. Finally, there is less under-provision of treatment for an incurable disease than a curable one, because of the negative externalities associated with treating an incurable disease.

Suggested Citation

  • Dana Goldman & Darius Lakdawalla & Neeraj Sood, 2004. "HIV Breakthroughs and Risk Sexual Behavior," NBER Working Papers 10516, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10516
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    1. Philipson, Tomas, 2000. "Economic epidemiology and infectious diseases," Handbook of Health Economics, in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.),Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 33, pages 1761-1799, Elsevier.
    2. Nelson, Charles R & Startz, Richard, 1990. "Some Further Results on the Exact Small Sample Properties of the Instrumental Variable Estimator," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(4), pages 967-976, July.
    3. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
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    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health

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