This paper explores the relationship between armed conflict and HIV prevalence in Africa. We review the literature suggesting that conflict can exacerbate the HIV epidemic (through sex with infected soldiers, war-related rape, poverty-related unsafe sex, transactional sex, etc) and the literature arguing the contrary (such as that militaries do not always have higher prevalence rates than the surrounding populations and that war can disrupt sexual networks). Building on past econometric contributions on the debate, our parsimonious cross-country panel data regression analysis of HIV prevalence casts doubt on the argument that conflict worsens the epidemic, particularly at a country level. We do, however, find a negative, albeit statistically weak association between armed conflict, militarization, and HIV prevalence. Fully acknowledging the limitations of our analysis, we stress the importance of looking at the association between HIV prevalence and conflict on a case by case basis, taking lessons from the experiences of other conflict afflicted countries.
Key words: panel data; cross country regression
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