Going it Alone?: Neighbors, Social Interactions, and Learning HIV Results

Rebecca L Thornton, University of Michigan
Susan Godlonton, University of Michigan

Do neighbors positively or negatively influence individuals living in rural Malawi to attend VCT centers to learn their HIV results? Using GIS data of location of homes and distance to other neighbors, we measure the social network effects of neighbors’ VCT attendance on individuals own attendance. This paper utilizes a randomized experiment that encouraged individuals and their neighbors to learn their HIV results. Using the fact that neighbors randomly received monetary incentives of varying amounts to learn their HIV status, the results in this paper indicate positive effects of neighbors attending VCT clinics on women living nearby. There is no effect of neighbors’ attendance on men. Unlike anecdotal claims that suggest social stigma has strong negative effects on learning HIV results, this paper finds no evidence of this.

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Presented in Session 133: Neighborhood/Community Influences on Adult Health and Mortality