Poverty as a Risk Factor for HIV/AIDS: Evidence from a Panel Study in Rural Malawi

Simona Bignami, Université de Montréal
Ari Van Assche, HEC Montréal

Evidence from recent Demographic and Health Surveys that include HIV testing indicates that, contrary to common beliefs, poverty is not associated with a higher risk of HIV infection. Yet the main limitation of these analyses is that cross-sectional data only allow identifying associations, and not causal linkages, between wealth and HIV infection. Moreover, for many HIV-positive adults, these associations might be biased if the infection preceded the behaviors reported in the survey. Finally, the strength and direction of the relationship between poverty and HIV as well as the roles of risk behaviors and protective factors are likely to change over time, depending on the stage and spread of the epidemic. Cross-sectional data do no allow evaluating the importance of these factors. In this paper, we take advantage of behavioral and biomarker data from a large-scale panel survey to evaluate the causal linkages between poverty and HIV infection in rural Malawi.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Poster Session 4