Martina Björkman Nyqvist, Assistant Professor at the Department of Economics at SSE, is one of the researchers who has studied if lottery tickets can be an incentive to practice safe sex as a means to prevent HIV in the African nation of Lesotho.
In the study, funded by the World Bank, a group of researchers has observed a significant reduction in HIV rates through behavioral intervention.
A lottery program offered participants in the study an opportunity to win cash on the condition that they tested negative for sexual transmitted infections. The results were astonishing. After two years there was a 21,4 percent reduction in HIV infections and a reduction of more than 60 percent among participants identified as “risk-loving individuals” – those who were identified at the study’s start as people who enjoyed taking risks.
“We are the first to find a significant reduction in HIV incidence through behavioral intervention”, says Assistant Professor Martina Björkman Nyqvist, the principal researcher on the project.
The researchers worked with approximately 3,000 volunteers in 29 villages across the country to see if the opportunity to enter a lottery in exchange for a clean test result might lower the rates of infections. Participants testing negative for curable sexually transmitted infections were entered automatically into a lottery with the possibility to win either USD 50 or USD 100.
The lotteries were most successful among people who are prone to taking risks. “As risky sexual behavior, which is responsible for the vast majority of new HIV infections, also involves a risky gamble, lottery programs may better target those at higher risk of getting infected by HIV” writes the authors in their working paper.
“The results are really big” says Martina Björkman Nyqvist. But the results apply to Lesotho. To conclude that this has external validity, we would need to replicate the lotteries elsewhere.”
Download the report Using Lotteries to Incentivize Safer Sexual Behavior Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial on HIV Prevention
The study has gained international media attention.
- Listen to the interview with Martina Björkman Nyqvist on the NPR Radio Morning Edition.
- Article in Huffington Post
Martina Björkman Nyqvist
Phone: +46-8-736 9285