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The New HIV Drug

(Photo: Babak Fakhamzadeh)

An FDA panel just approved the first drug recommended for preventing infection by, rather than limiting the effects of the HIV virus.  Part of the discussion by panel members was classic economics, expressing concerns that the drug’s availability would reduce people’s willingness to take as much care, in particular that it might reduce condom use.  

The same issue has been mentioned and analyzed in various economic studies, including old ones about the effects of mandating car seat-belt use on automobile accidents, and about the impact of sex education on teenage sexual activity and pregnancy.  Any insurance or safety measure generates a moral hazard; the important issue is the net effect on the outcome of interest — in this case, HIV infection.


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