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The Microeconomics of the AIDS Epidemic in Africa

Tomas Philipson and Richard A. Posner
Population and Development Review
Vol. 21, No. 4 (Dec., 1995), pp. 835-848
Published by: Population Council
DOI: 10.2307/2137776
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2137776
Page Count: 14
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The Microeconomics of the AIDS Epidemic in Africa
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Abstract

The AIDS epidemic has ravaged sub-Saharan Africa, particularly the Central and Eastern regions. Although data are poor, the authors contend that a rational-choice approach, which has proved illuminating with respect to AIDS in the United States, can be fruitfully applied to the African experience as well. They suggest that differences in the prevalence of prostitution and other nonmonogamous sexual activity, the prevalence of other sexually transmitted diseases, and the real economic costs of condoms can be used to explain differences between the US and African patterns of the epidemic, including the positive correlation in Africa between income and the likelihood of being infected by the AIDS virus, in contrast to the negative correlation in the United States. They also argue that some of the policy interventions that seem promising in the US context, such as partner notification, are unlikely to be effective in Africa, and that the most effective method of controlling the African epidemic might be through measures that increase economic equality between women and men.

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