The Impact of Learning HIV Status on Marital Stability in Malawi

Theresa M. Fedor, University of Pennsylvania
Jere Behrman, University of Pennsylvania

This paper assesses how knowledge of HIV/AIDS status is used among married individuals in ways that protect against HIV/AIDS risk. Utilizing a randomized experiment administered as part of the Malawi Longitudinal Study of Families and Health, we use two stage least squares probit models to estimate the effect of learning HIV status on later chances of divorce, the number of sexual partners or the use of condoms within marriage. We find that knowledge of HIV status does not affect chances of divorce for either HIV negative or HIV positive respondents. Among HIV positive respondents, we observe increased condom use with spouses, as well as fewer sexual partners in the year of follow-up. HIV negative women also increase condom use with spouses after learning HIV negative status. These results imply an active response to learning HIV status that evokes protective behavior against future risk of HIV/AIDS for respondents and their spouses.

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Presented in Session 197: HIV/AIDS, Marriage, and Fertility