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Cash rewards could increase STD testing rates

Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Offering cash rewards may help increase STD testing, thereby lowering the rates of infection, according to a new study from University of California, Berkeley researchers.

The team tested their theory in rural Africa, where there is a high prevalence of sexually transmitted disease. Each participant was offered $60 over a 12-month period to stay free of STDs. The team found that this strategy led to a 25 percent drop in new infections.

"For many of our study participants, $60 represented about one-fourth of their reported annual income, so it was a significant incentive," said Will Dow, who led the study. "The question we tested is whether the cash reward was enough of an incentive to reduce risky behavior and better take advantage of available health services."

He added that the study could have implications for the larger HIV/AIDS epidemic. While these diseases were not considered in the study, Dow noted that a reduction in the risky sexual behavior that leads to STDs like gonorrhea and syphilis could also help head off new HIV infections.

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