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How Beliefs about HIV Status Affect Risky Behaviors: Evidence from Malawi

  • Aureo de Paula

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania)

  • Gil Shapira

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania)

  • Petra Todd

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania)

Many HIV testing programs in Africa and elsewhere aim to reduce risk-taking behaviors by providing individuals with information about their own HIV status. This paper examines how beliefs about own HIV status affect risky sexual behavior using data from married couples living in three regions of Malawi. Risky behavior is measured as the propensity to engage in extramarital affairs or to not use condoms. The empirical analysis is based on two panel surveys for years 2004 and 2006 from the Malawi Diffusion and Ideational Change Project (MDICP) and from an experimental HIV testing intervention carried out in 2004 that provided randomized incentives for picking up test results. Most individuals participating in the MDICP testing learned that they were HIV negative and a small fraction that they were positive. Controlling for potential endogeneity between beliefs and risk-taking, we find that downward revisions in the subjective belief of being HIV positive lead to decreases in the propensity to engage in extra-marital affairs but have no effect on condom use. These results are generally supported by survey questions that directly elicited from respondents how participating in testing altered their behavior. We show that the estimates provide a lower bound in the presence of measurement error in extra-marital affairs.

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File URL: http://economics.sas.upenn.edu/system/files/working-papers/08-035.pdf
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Paper provided by Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania in its series PIER Working Paper Archive with number 08-035.

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Length: 49 pages
Date of creation: 03 Oct 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pen:papers:08-035
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  1. 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.
  2. Oster, Emily, 2012. "HIV and sexual behavior change: Why not Africa?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 35-49.
  3. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
  4. 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.
  5. Rebecca L. Thornton, 2008. "The Demand for, and Impact of, Learning HIV Status," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 1829-63, December.
  6. Mechoulan Stéphane, 2004. "HIV Testing: a Trojan Horse?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 4(1), pages 1-26, August.
  7. Kremer, Michael, 1996. "Integrating Behavioral Choice into Epidemiological Models of AIDS," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 549-73, May.
  8. FFF1Georges NNN1Reniers, 2003. "Divorce and Remarriage in Rural Malawi," Demographic Research Special Collections, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 1(6), pages 175-206, September.
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