How Beliefs About HIV Status Affect Risky Behaviors: Evidence from Malawi, Sixth Version

58 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2011

See all articles by Aureo de Paula

Aureo de Paula

University College London - Department of Economics; Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV) - Sao Paulo School of Economics

Gil Shapira

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics

Petra Todd

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: February 21, 2011

Abstract

This paper examines how beliefs about own HIV status affect decisions to engage in risky sexual behavior (as measured by extramarital affairs) and analyzes the potential for interventions that influence beliefs, such as HIV testing and informational campaigns, to reduce transmission rates. The empirical analysis is based on a panel survey of married males for years 2006 and 2008 from the Malawi Diffusion and Ideational Change Project (MDICP). In the data, beliefs about HIV status vary significantly geographically and over time, in part because of newly available testing opportunities and because of cultural differences. We estimate the effect of beliefs on risky behavior using Arellano and Carrasco’s (2003) semiparametric panel data estimator, which accommodates unobserved heterogeneity and belief endogeneity. Results show that changes in the belief of being HIV positive induce changes in risky behavior. Downward revisions in beliefs increase risky behavior and upward revisions decrease it. We modify Arellano and Carrasco’s (2003) estimator to allow for underreporting of extramarital affairs and find the estimates to be robust. Using the estimates and a prototypical epidemiological model of disease transmission, we show that better informing people about their HIV status on net reduces the population HIV transmission rate.

Keywords: Malawi, HIV, beliefs

JEL Classification: I12

Suggested Citation

de Paula, Aureo and Shapira, Gil and Todd, Petra, How Beliefs About HIV Status Affect Risky Behaviors: Evidence from Malawi, Sixth Version (February 21, 2011). PIER Working Paper No. 11-005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1766000 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1766000

Aureo De Paula (Contact Author)

University College London - Department of Economics ( email )

Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV) - Sao Paulo School of Economics

Rua Itapeva 474 s.1202
São Paulo, São Paulo 01332-000
Brazil

Gil Shapira

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics ( email )

Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science
133 South 36th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6297
United States

Petra Todd

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics ( email )

Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science
133 South 36th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6297
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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