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Is Sex Like Driving? Risk Compensation Associated with Male Circumcision in Kisumu, Kenya

By Nicholas Wilson, Wentao Xiong and Christine Mattson

Abstract

Mass adult male circumcision campaigns for HIV prevention are underway across much of Sub-Saharan Africa. However, concern remains about risk compensation associated with the reduction in the probability of HIV transmission per risky act. This paper examines the be- havioral response to male circumcision in Kisumu, Kenya. Contrary to the presumption of risk compensation, we find that the response due to the perceived reduction in HIV transmission appears to have been a reduction in risky sexual behavior. We suggest a mechanism for this finding: circumcision reduces fatalism about acquiring HIV/AIDS and increases the salience of the tradeoff between engaging in additional risky behavior and avoiding acquiring HIV. We also find what appears to be a competing effect that does not operate through the circumcision recipient's belief about the reduction in the risk of acquiring HIV.HIV/AIDS, male circumcision, risk compensation, beliefs, Kenya

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