A way of controlling AIDS

Alex Tabarrok gives some pointers in MR (in a post which involves more sex, Thailand, and The Wisdom of Whores):

In More Sex is Safer Sex Steven Landsburg famously argued (based on work by Michael Kremer) that if more people, especially more sexually conservative people, had sex the AIDS epidemic could be reduced. Landsburg wrote:

Imagine a country where almost all women are monogamous, while all men demand two female partners per year. Under those circumstances, a few prostitutes end up servicing all the men. Before long, the prostitutes are infected; they pass the disease on to the men; the men bring it home to their monogamous wives. But if each of those monogamous wives were willing to take on one extramarital partner, the market for prostitution would die out, and the virus, unable to spread fast enough to maintain itself, might well die out along with it.

In The Wisdom of Whores (see also my earlier post) Elizabeth Pisani says that such a country exists, it’s Thailand, and the results of more sex were safer sex – exactly as Landsburg argued.

Take a look (and, don’t miss the comments — one of the commentors at least, credits Steinbeck with the discovery of the some of these ideas too)!

By the way, while we are on the topic, take a look at this review (hat tip to Swarup for the email pointer) in New York Review of books by Darlymple, titled India: the place of sex, which is a review of four books — one on Chola bronzes, a translation of Kamasutra, another book on Kamasutra, and one on Tantric sex. Reading the review, you realise that we could have been Thailand, if only we kept up our traditions from those days 🙂 By the way, Amitav Ghosh, in his In an antique land also mentions (with enough supporting scholarly material, of course) how India was indeed perceived as a land of sexual mores by foreigners during the medieval period.

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