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Circumcision, information, and HIV prevention

Susan Godlonton, University of Michigan
Rebecca L. Thornton, University of Michigan
Alister Munthali, University of Malawi

While male circumcision has been shown to significantly lower the transmission rate of HIV, some have cautioned that after disseminating the information about male circumcision and HIV, circumcised men may engage in riskier sex after learning that they are less at risk. Among a sample of approximately 900 circumcised and 300 un-circumcised men living in rural Malawi, we randomly disseminated the information about HIV transmission risk and male circumcision. We measure the behavioral response to learning this information. We find no evidence of disinhibition among circumcised men in the treatment group as measured by condom purchases and self-reported sexual behavior. Uncircumcised men in the treatment group significantly increase the likelihood of purchasing condoms immediately after the information intervention by approximately 10 percentage points and this is weakly persistent after one year. Consistent with this, we present evidence that uncircumcised men who learn about HIV and circumcision decreased risky sexual behavior.

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Presented in Session 112: Socio-cultural practices and reproductive health