Researchers have found that cash incentives from governments are able to alter community behavior, and Mexico has already seen an improvement in pediatric care due to such a program. Other examples of such programs across the world include an increase in HIV testing in Malawi after an incentive was offered, as well as a reduction in the number of sexually transmitted diseases in Tanzania after a similar program was instituted.

Because of this, researchers have looked into the possibility of reducing the high-risk activities of male sex workers in Mexico, as well as the practices of homosexual men in the country, and while the research revealed that few would be willing to make lifestyle changes, the majority have a set price for which they would be willing to improve the safety of their practices.

The idea is that slowing the spread of HIV saves the nation both lives and money, thus the cost of such incentives is more than offset by the benefits of such a program. It is better for the government to spend money on stopping the spread of disease in the first place than on treating those who are contracting it but can’t afford treatment.

About a quarter of the men in these high-risk categories (sex workers and homosexuals) have HIV, and treatment costs the government $1,000s per year for each individual – so how much would prevention incentives cost?

Of the nearly 2,000 gay men interviewed, over 75% said they would attend talks about prevention on a monthly basis, get tested frequently for sexually transmitted diseases, and vow to stay free of sexually transmitted diseases for a kickback of just $288 per year, and men who worked in the sex industry agreed to the same thing for only $156 per year – this represents an immense savings over treatment costs, not to mention the many lives the program could potentially save.