The Heterogeneous Effects of HIV Testing
Baird, Sarah; Gong, Erick; McIntosh, Craig; Ozler, Berk
An extensive multi-disciplinary literature examines the effects of learning one’s HIV status on subsequent risky sexual behaviors. However, many of these studies rely on nonexperimental designs; use self-reported outcome measures, or both. In this study, we investigate the effects of a randomly assigned Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) intervention on risky sexual behaviors and schooling investments among school-age females in Malawi. We find no overall effects on HIV, Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV-2), or test scores at follow-up. However, receiving a HIV-positive test result causes a large increase in the probability of contracting HSV-2, with stronger effects among those surprised by the HIV-positive test results. Similarly, those surprised by HIV-negative test results see a significant improvement in achievement test scores, consistent with increased returns to investments in human capital. We view the finding on increased HSV-2 prevalence among HIV-positive individuals as a caution to the conventional wisdom that those who learn they are HIV-positive will adopt safer sexual practices.
Publisher: University of Otago
Series number: 1310
ISSN: 1178-2293 (Online)
Research Type: Discussion Paper
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