REVERSE PROSTITUTION

A $1.8 million groundbreaking World Bank-backed experiment being launched this year in Tanzania, aimed at halting the spread of Aids, was described in the London Financial Times on April 19. The project will counsel 3,000 men and women aged 15-30 in southern rural areas over three years, paying them $45 a year on condition that periodic laboratory results prove that they have not contacted sexually transmitted infections. There will be a control arm of people not offered payment to track the effects of the project precisely.

The designers of the project believe that the payments, when combined with careful counseling, could play an important role in reducing HIV infection. Commenting in its leading article under the heading ‘Cash for safe sex’ the FT wrote: ‘This bribery to stay free of HIV will be controversial but it may increase the bargaining power of young women and give them an alternative to accepting money from richer, older boyfriends. Can the plan really work? It might. The world of development policy needs more dangerous ideas rigorously evaluated. This one is a long shot. It should be supported anyway.’

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