This is the fourteenth in our series of posts by students on the job market this year.
People are afraid of HIV. Moreover, people around the world are convinced that the virus is easier to get than it actually is. The median person thinks that if you have unprotected sex with an HIV-positive person a single time, you will get HIV for sure. The truth is that it’s not nearly that easy to get HIV – the medical literature estimates that the transmission rate is actually about 0.1% per sex act, or 10% per year.
This is number 9 in our series of posts by students on the job market this year.
As HIV continues to spread in sub-Saharan Africa, so does stigma. Many go to great lengths to hide their HIV status, get tested at clinics far from home to avoid being seen, and put off medical care until it's much too late. This has devastating effects. While life-saving medication is now provided for free in most parts of Southern Africa, there are still over one million AIDS deaths every year. Reluctance to seek treatment also has a negative externality. Antiretroviral drugs slow the spread of HIV dramatically, but a “treatment for prevention” strategy won’t work if people don’t seek treatment.
What causes stigma? What can we do about it?
I am currently in Malawi rolling out a firm survey with my colleagues Francisco Campos and Manuela Bucciarelli. As we’ve gone through the enumerator selection and training this week and a pre-test of the survey, a number of observations have come up – some related to firm surveys in particular, some more general. In no particular order:
In honor of Labor Day here in the US, I want to talk about a recent nutrition paper by Emla Fitzsimons, Bansi Malde, Alice Mesnard and Marcos Vera-Hernandez. This paper, “Household Responses to Information on Child Nutrition,” is one with a twist – they look not only at nutrition outcomes, but they also try and figure out where these might be coming from – and hence also look at labor supply.
The previous post in this blog discussed the positive dynamic effects of conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs in Mexico and Nicaragua – in particular on asset accumulation and the incidence of entrepreneurship by the rural poor.
Lant Pritchett once said to me “Thanks for the comments. As usual they are all very smart and well-informed and I disagree with most.” I feel similarly regarding his very popular piece posted here last week (already one of the top 10 most popular posts in our blog's short history) on how CCTs are forcing children in developing countries into terrible schools. So, here goes a reply…