Francis and Mialon on Tolerance and HIV
New on SSRN: Andrew M. Francis & Hugo M. Mialon, Tolerance and HIV. The abstract:
We empirically investigate the effect of attitudes toward gays on the spread of HIV in the United States. Using a state-level panel dataset spanning the mid-1970s to the late 1990s, we find that tolerance for gays significantly decreases the HIV rate. We then investigate the causal mechanisms potentially underlying this relationship. We find evidence consistent with the theory that tolerant attitudes toward homosexuals cause low-risk men to enter the pool of homosexual partners, as well as cause sexually active men to substitute from underground, anonymous, and risky behaviors to open, socially mediated, and less risky behaviors, both of which lower the HIV rate. We consider several alternative hypotheses and conclude that they are unlikely to explain the findings. Our estimates imply that taking steps to promote tolerance may result in thousands of fewer HIV cases annually.