How do Roads Spread AIDS in Africa? A Critique of the Received Policy Wisdom
This paper empirically analyzes the influence of road proximity on HIV-infection using geographical data on road infrastructure and the Demographic and Health Surveys collected in six African countries. Firstly we show that living in proximity to a major road increases the individual risk of infection. This observed relationship is found to be sensitive to the use of the road and to be robust after correcting for potential selection bias related to the non random placement of people. Secondly, our findings reveal that road infrastructure improves the level of HIV/AIDS-knowledge and facilitates access to condoms, providing no support to the hypothesis that HIV-infection is purely due to ignorance and misfortune. Thirdly, we find that the increased risk of infection is driven by a higher likelihood of engaging in casual sexual partnerships that more than offsets the effect of the increased use of condoms.
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