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Response of Malawians’ Sexual Behavior to Information about HIV Transmission Risks

a PSC Small Fund Research Project

Investigator:   Jason Kerwin

Despite substantial investments in the promotion of safer sex, Southern Africa has continued to experience a severe HIV epidemic, and condom use remains rare in the region. This project will explore a new potential HIV prevention strategy: providing information about the true risk of HIV transmission from an infected sex partner, which is lower than most people believe. Some believe that decreasing perceived per-act risks should increase how much risky sex people have. A number of people in Malawi, however, appear to exhibit “fatalistic” behavior - their high beliefs about the transmission rate of HIV have led them to decide they must already have the virus. Telling these people the true per-act risk would lead them to realize they probably do not, and therefore to decrease their risk-taking. My project will directly examine the extent of each pattern of behavior, using an experiment that provides information about HIV transmission risks to randomly-selected people from Malawi’s Zomba District.

Funding Period: 03/01/2012 to 06/30/2013

Country of Focus: Malawi

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