Criminal prosecution and Human Immunodeficiency Virus–related risky behavior
We examine the consequences of prosecuting people
who are human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) positive and expose others to
the infection. We show that the effect of such prosecutions on the
spread of HIV is a priori ambiguous. The prosecutions deter unsafe sex.
However, they also create incentives for having sex with partners who
are more promiscuous, which consequently increases the spread of HIV. We
test these predictions and find that such prosecutions are associated
with a reduction in the number of partners, an increase in safe sex, and
an increase in sex with prostitutes. We estimate that doubling the
prosecution rate could decrease the total number of new HIV infections
by one-third over a 10-year period.
Journal of Law and Economics
Volume and page numbers
53 , 741 -782
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