Publication: HIV, Risk, and Time Preferences: Evidence from a General Population Sample in Lesotho

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Nyqvist, Martina Bjorkman
Corno, Lucia
Walque, Damien de
Svensson, Jakob
Identifying individuals most at risk of HIV infection is a priority for policymakers. Apart from specific groups, however, little is known about how to identify those at high risk in the population. Research suggests that attitudes toward risk and time preferences may influence risky sexual behavior, but no studies have so far investigated the interplay between risk attitudes, time preference, and HIV infection. We collect data on risk and time preferences using hypothetical games (multiple price list method) at baseline and data on HIV status at baseline (2010) and endline (2012) allowing us to calculate incidence rate over a 2-year period among 675 participants, males and females 18–32 years old in Lesotho. We find robust evidence of a statistically significant positive associations between HIV incidence and prevalence and risk-loving attitudes, while the associations with risky behaviors and time preferences are not statistically significant. A measure of attitude toward risk, relatively easy to administer to individuals in a survey, is thus associated with future HIV status. This is an important finding for policymakers and suggests the importance of targeting HIV prevention programs to risk-loving individuals and therefore improving program efficiency.
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