HIV and Incentives for Monogamy among Gay Men

Nicholas Papageorge, Washington University in St. Louis

The AIDS epidemic altered monogamous sexual behavior among gay men in the United States. I examine changes coinciding with the introduction of highly active anti-retroviral treatment (HAART). HAART transformed HIV infection from a virtual death sentence into a chronic and manageable condition. I exploit the quasi-experimental nature of HAART introduction and detailed data on sexual behavior and health status. The aim is to examine how HAART impacted monogamous behavior, directly through health improvements and indirectly through shifts in the expected cost of HIV infection. I consider monogamy both in terms of its mechanical definition - intercourse with one versus multiple partners - and as a sexual behavior that often accompanies longer-term partnerships. The latter perspective suggests a link between post-HAART monogamous behavior changes and HAART-induced shifts in relative costs of partnership formation, partnership dissolution and investments in relationship-specific capital.

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Presented in Session 133: HIV Care and Prevention