As an amateur economist, it is music to Blawgconomics' ears when creative incentive schemes are used for the public good, particularly when it takes a de minimus amount of government dollars to accomplish the stated goal. Your author believes he has stumbled on just such a plan taking shape in the previous of the cities on his whistlestop tour of life, Washington, DC.
The nation's capital is wonderful in so many ways. Whether one is most affected by the grandeur of the Washington Monument, the stately demeanor of the White House, or the quiet beauty of cherry blossoms in the basin during those crisp morning of the springtime, there is much to like. Of course there is additionally the blessing of free access to some of the best museums and archives in the world, some of the best schools in the nation, top-notch sports and entertainment (well, okay, maybe top-notch is a bit of an overindulgence)...nonetheless, there is clearly a lot to like about the nation's capital.
As a major city with a large population of people below the poverty line, there are also many problems. Statistics are unnecessary to tell part of the tale; a simple walk through some areas does more to tell the story of the city's crime, homelessness and drug use than numbers ever could. Nonetheless, not all of the problems of city life appear right on the surface; not all are as obvious as a homeless man walking down the street, or a user passed out in a park. Therefore, some statistics are helpful, and among them one there is one is additionally highly impactful; 3%. As in it has been concluded that 3% of the city's inhabitants have HIV/AIDS. That number is incredibly 300% times that of the level considered to be a general epidemic.
How to combat this problem is something that has stumped a lot of folks with a lot more knowledge than your author on the subject. However, despite a lack of expertise, I can see a lot of merit to a first-of-its-kind plan that is being rolled out next Tuesday. Under the plan, people who are waiting to take care of normal business at the DMV will have the opportunity to receive a free HIV test. Additionally, Family and Medical Counseling Service (their website is under construction, but a quick Google search can show you the many other works the group is involved in), the nonprofit offering the testing, will give all participants a $15 credit to defray the costs of that DMV visit. In the worst case scenario, counseling and medical attention will also be offered.
Though there could be some downsides and holes in the plan as some people won't want to be tested in a public place, or subjected to public attention if tests came back positive, it is certainly a creative approach to a serious problem. And, if it helps even a few people learn their status, it could be the first positive step in lowering an alarming statistic that would otherwise continue to rise.