Thursday, May 1, 2008

Reverse Prostitution: Paying Tanzanians to keep STD Free

A new World Bank program is beginning in Tanzania to fight HIV/AIDs. The program will pay participants $45 if the test clean for sexually transmitted diseases, which is on average about 25% of some of the programs participants. (See article)

The idea is that if you incentivize having safe sex, HIV rates should down. However, testing for HIV is expensive. Also previous work by University of Chicago economist, Emily Oster, has shown that part of the reason for higher HIV infection rates in African countries is higher infection rates of herpes, which increase the likely hood of transmission.

Another good point of the program is that if a participant is found to have a STD they receive free treatment. As I pointed in a previous post about treating STD infections, spending $78 treating STDs is predicted to prevent 1 HIV case.

This program should help indentify STD infected people and may promote more safe sex. From the article it looks like the program will be tested as a randomized experiment. So in a few years we’ll have an idea of how well the program works.

h/t to marginal revolution

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