How Much HIV Does Conflict Cause?

Increasing reports of rape in the Eastern DRC over the past two years has illuminated the relationship between conflict and sexual violence. The question follows then, does conflict cause increases in HIV and if so, by how much? Isaac Kalonda Kanyama answer this question his paper, “Civil War, Sexual Violence, and HIV Infections: Evidence from the Democratic Republic of the Congo“:

Specifically we find that (i) HIV prevalence is 1.64 % higher in war-affectedzones than elsewhere in the DRC; (ii) the impact of sexual violencein conflict-affected regions is 55 times greater than on average (1.10% versus 0.02 %); (iii) Civil war and sexual violence jointly increaseHIV infection rates by 1.45 %; (iv) Finally, economic conflict-relatedvulnerability does not explain HIV infection rates. In contrast, a onepercent point decrease in the poverty incidence, that is a reductionin economic vulnerability, increases HIV prevalence rates by 0.048 %regardless of the situation of conflict.

To get these results Kanyama compares conflict prone zone areas of the Eastern DRC to bordering provinces that don’t experience conflict using DHS data from 2007.  Kanyama does a great job with bad data, and caveats aside, deriving these types of estimates is extremely important for policy in the region.  Kanyama’s paper is well worth a read for anybody thinking about these issues or the tricky methodology surrounding these questions.


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