If you give U.S. tax dollars to a Mexican male prostitute, will he agree to stay disease-free? That’s what government-funded researchers at Brown University would like to know.
The study is called “Conditional Economic Incentives to Reduce HIV Risks: A Pilot in Mexico,” and uses a grant from the National Institute of Health to pay male prostitutes in Mexico City.
The prostitutes were placed in different groups and tested for sexually transmitted diseases. For every six months that they remain clean, they receive a payment that is larger or smaller depending upon their group.
Though the dollar amounts paid to each prostitute are small — they must remain poor enough to continue in prostitution, of course — the study has already cost nearly $400,000.
Researchers hope the experiment will show that financial incentives can be used to deter the spread of HIV/AIDS.
But Drew Johnson of the Center for Individual Freedom wondered if bribing Mexican prostitutes was the best use of the taxpayer’s dime.