Although most countries state that fighting social intolerance against persons with HIV is part of their national HIV strategy, the impact of reducing intolerance on risky sexual behavior is largely unknown. In this paper, we estimate the effect of social intolerance against HIV+ persons on risky sexual behavior in rural Malawi using data from roughly 2000 respondents from the 2004 and 2006 waves of the Malawi Longitudinal Study of Families and Health (MLSFH). The effect of social intolerance on risky behavior is a priori ambiguous. On the one hand, higher social intolerance or stigma can lead people to disassociate from the stigmatized group and hence promote risky behavior. On the other hand, intolerance can be viewed as a social tax on being HIV+ and thus higher intolerance may reduce risky behavior. We find that a decrease in social intolerance is associated with a decrease in risky behavior, including fewer partners and a lower likelihood of having extra-marital relations. This effect is mainly driven by the impact of social intolerance on men. Overall the results suggests that reducing social intolerance might not only benefit the HIV positive but might also forestall the spread of HIV.
- Economic epidemiology
- Risky behavior