Behavior Change Interventions

How Effective are HIV Behavior Change
Interventions? Experimental Evidence from Zimbabwe
(Forthcoming Journal of Development Effectiveness; With Ramona Wong-Grünwald)
In this project, we present evidence from a randomized controlled trial in which 3,661 youth took part in an HIV behavior change intervention (“Join-in Circuit”). We find that the intervention increased knowledge both for attendees and nearby residents. Effects on self-reported behavior are not discernible. Problematically, the intervention decreased confidence to practice safer sex. Using qualitative evidence, we attribute the negative outcome to two unintended side effects. First, the intervention contradicted socio-cultural norms, creating uncertainty about correct behavior. Second, by being exposed to information about the many risks of sexual intercourse, attendees felt overwhelmed and less inclined to practice safer sex.
Link to Paper