Can Having Fewer Partners Increase Prevalence of Aids?

54 Pages Posted: 17 Jun 2000 Last revised: 28 Jul 2010

See all articles by Michael Kremer

Michael Kremer

Harvard University - Department of Economics; Brookings Institution; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Center for Global Development; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: December 1994

Abstract

Under asymmetric information about sexual history, sexual activity creates externalities. Abstinence by those with few partners perversely increases the average probability of HIV infection in the pool of available partners. Since this increases prevalence among the high activity people who disproportionately influence the disease's future spread, it may increase long-run prevalence. Preliminary calculations using standard epidemiological models and survey data on sexual activity suggest that most people have few enough partners that further reductions would increase steady-state prevalence. To the extent the results prove robust, they suggest that public health messages will be more likely to reduce steady-state prevalence and create positive externalities if they stress condom use rather than abstinence.

Suggested Citation

Kremer, Michael R., Can Having Fewer Partners Increase Prevalence of Aids? (December 1994). NBER Working Paper No. w4942. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=226542

Michael R. Kremer (Contact Author)

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