HIV/AIDS Treatment Availability and the Decision to Test: Evidence from Malawi

Nicholas Stacey, Brown University

This paper examines whether the availability of an effective treatment influences the decision to test for HIV/AIDS. Given the improved health that treatment bestows if one is HIV positive, treatment availability increases the expected benefit of testing and learning one’s status. Using variation in proximity to health facilities during the expansion of antiretroviral therapy provision in Malawi in the early 2000s, we identify the effect of increased availability of HIV/AIDS treatment on reported HIV testing. We find that the change in the likelihood of reporting having tested over this time period is decreasing in distance to facilities providing treatment when distance to facilities providing testing is controlled for. Our analysis provides empirical evidence suggesting that treatment availability increases testing. The policy implications of this result are that if testing is viewed as a desirable public health outcome, reducing costs of accessing treatment provides an indirect means of achieving this goal.

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Presented in Poster Session 5: Adult Health and Mortality