I found this in my inbox this morning courtesy of Cynthia. I am not entirely sure what to make of this article, except to say that the saying 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions' was coined for these kinds of incidents. Ms Medlin's line, in particular, is priceless. Do we assume that people who are living in poverty aren't rational enough to consider long-term consequences of their behavior unless someone provides a $45 incentive? Why does this make me feel mildly nauseous?
By Andrew Jack in
Published: April 25 2008 22:25
Thousands of people in
The $1.8m trial – to be launched this year – will counsel 3,000 men and women aged 15-30 in southern rural Tanzania over three years, paying them on condition that periodic laboratory test results prove they have not contracted sexually transmitted infections.
The proposed payments of $45 equate to a quarter of annual income for some participants.
The programme, jointly funded by the World Bank, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Population Reference Bureau and the Spanish Impact Evaluation Fund, marks an important step in the fight to tackle Aids, which claims 2m lives a year.
In spite of billions of dollars spent annually on treatment and prevention worldwide, there were about 2.5m new HIV infections in 2007, predominantly in
Carol Medlin from the
The Tanzanian experiment is a big advance in efforts to test public health ideas more rigorously, with some participants placed in a control arm not offered payment in order to track the effects of the programme precisely.
"Conditional cash transfers" have already been used in
The designers of the Tanzanian programme believe that payments of $45 when combined with careful counselling could play an important role in reducing HIV infection, especially for vulnerable young women.
The study will be conducted by the Ifakara Health Research and Development Centre in
The Tanzanian trial programme, which is still subject to fine-tuning and ethical approval, will not specifically test for HIV, which is costly and already widely conducted in the country. It will use proxies including gonorrhoea, and guarantees any participant found to be infected receives state treatment.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008