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Criminal Prosecution and HIV-related Risky Behavior

  • Adeline Delavande
  • Dana Goldman
  • Neeraj Sood

We evaluate the consequences of prosecuting HIV+ people who expose others to the risk of infection. We show that the effect of aggressive prosecutions on the spread of HIV is a priori ambiguous. Aggressive prosecutions tax risky behavior and thus deter unsafe sex and limit the number of sexual partners. However, such penalties might also create unique incentives for having sex with more promiscuous partners such as prostitutes and consequently increase the spread of HIV. We test these predictions using unique nationally representative data on the sexual activity and prosecutions of HIV+ persons. We find that more aggressive prosecutions are associated with a reduction in the number of sexual partners and increased likelihood of safe sex. However, they are also associated with increased likelihood of having sex with prostitutes and not disclosing HIV+ status. Overall, our estimates imply that doubling the prosecution rate could decrease the number of new HIV infections by 12% over a ten-year period.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w12903.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12903.

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Date of creation: Feb 2007
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12903
Note: HC
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  1. Morse, Edward V. & Simon, Patricia M. & Osofsky, Howard J. & Balson, Paul M. & Gaumer, H. Richard, 1991. "The male street prostitute: A vector for transmission of HIV infection into the heterosexual world," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 535-539, January.
  2. Peltzman, Sam, 1975. "The Effects of Automobile Safety Regulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(4), pages 677-725, August.
  3. Jeffrey A. Miron & Jeffrey Zwiebel, 1995. "The Economic Case against Drug Prohibition," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 175-192, Fall.
  4. Tomas Philipson, 1999. "Economic Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases," NBER Working Papers 7037, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Philipson, Tomas J & Posner, Richard A, 1995. "A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation of the Effects of Public Health Subsidies for STD Testing," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(2), pages 445-74, May.
  6. Philipson, Tomas & Posner, Richard A, 1994. "Public Spending on AIDS Education: An Economic Analysis," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(1), pages 17-38, April.
  7. Michael A. Boozer & Tomas J. Philipson, 2000. "The Impact of Public Testing for Human Immunodeficiency Virus," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 35(3), pages 419-446.
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