Moving the Needle on HIV Prevention with Behavioral Economics

Friday, June 5th 2020

1:00 PM - 2:30 PM


Some barriers to HIV prevention are behavioral (e.g. someone can’t incorporate PrEP use into daily routine), while others are structural (e.g. health services are simply not available). We are three graduate students interested in HIV prevention, hoping to share insights we learned about how behavioral economics (BE) can be used to mitigate some of these behavioral barriers. BE is a multidisciplinary field that suggests humans act in predictably irrational ways. It then tries to use that irrationality to design more effective interventions. For example, one simple way BE has helped people physically distance during the Coronavirus pandemic is through markings at stores that remind people to stand 6 feet apart. In the workshop, we will introduce the BE framework, give examples of how BE has been used to prevent the spread of HIV, and brainstorm how participants may have already, intentionally or unintentionally, incorporated behavioral economic strategies into their practices/daily routines. These BE tools may be especially important for people who take PrEP or ART right now, as COVID-19 changes people’s daily routines and their perception of HIV risk.


  1. Introduce the concept of behavioral economics to those interested in or working in the field of HIV prevention
  2. Learn how behavioral economics strategies have been beneficial and where they have fallen short, with respect to HIV prevention
  3. Discuss how participants may have already, intentionally or unintentionally, incorporated behavioral economic strategies into their practices/daily routines, in an attempt to meet HIV prevention goals
  4. Introduce a toolbox with behavioral economics techniques that PLWHA, those at risk for HIV, and/or providers can implement in their daily lives, partly based on a project we completed to design behavioral economics interventions to increase PrEP adherence


Mary Andrews

Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania

Mary E. Andrews is a doctoral student studying health communication at the Annenberg School for Communication. She uses neuroscience, behavioral, and other communication research to study how health related messages and social networks influence health behavior at the individual, group, and population level. Andrews is particularly interested in studying how commutation interventions can be used to reduce health disparities.



Deborah Cousins, MSPH, PMP

Deborah Cousins, MSPH, PMP, supports projects under the direction of Dr. Amol Navathe. Deborah has a Masters of Science in Public Health in Epidemiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP). Deborah previously worked for Social & Scientific Systems, Inc. as a Project Manager/Programming Manager, providing project management and SAS programming support to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Cancer Institute.






Daniel Resnick

University of Pennsylvania

Dan is a fourth year medical student taking a year out to complete a master of science in health policy as a David A. Asch Medical Student Scholar in Health Services Research. He hails from Massachusetts and received a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Tufts University. Dan worked at a small foreign policy think tank in Washington for two years, then transition into medicine by completing Bryn Mawr’s Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program.

Dan is very interested in integrating his future clinical work with both health services research and policy advocacy, namely in the areas of disease prevention and reducing health care disparities. His research thus far has focused on barriers and facilitators for preventing HIV, and his research was presented at the 2019 National HIV Prevention Conference. He aims to work on creative PrEP implementation projects as part of the MSHP program.

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Spotlight On

Karam Mounzer, MD

Dr. Mounzer identified two major gaps in the care of patients with HIV/hepatitis C (HCV) co-infection, and the complexity of multidrug-resistant HIV treatment. He is involved with many clinical trials focusing on drug development and better understanding of HIV immunopathogenesis with the Wistar Institute. He is involved in teaching and mentoring.

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Dr. Karam Mounzer

Dr. Mario Cruz

Dr. Mario CruzDr. Cruz is a board certified pediatrician who serves as the Medical Director for our Pediatrics and Adolescent Health Center. He has presented and/or published in the fields of community violence and domestic violence prevention, quality improvement, behavioral health, curriculum development and mentorship. In 2019 he received the Greater Philadelphia Social Innovation Award for Innovations in Healthcare.

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