We are reviewing the literature regarding sexual networks and HIV transmission in sub-Saharan Africa and Europe. On Likoma Island in Malawi, a sexual network was reconstructed using a sociometric survey in which individuals named their sexual partners. The sexual network identified one giant component including half of all sexually active individuals. More than 25% of respondents were linked through independent chains of sexual relations. HIV was more common in the sparser regions of the network due to over-representation of groups with higher HIV prevalence. A study from KwaZulu-Natal in South-Africa collected egocentric data about sexual partners and found that new infections in women in a particular area was associated with the number of life-time partners in men. Data about sexual networks and HIV transmission are not reported in Europe. It is, however, found that the annual number of sexual partners follows a scale-free network. Phylogenetic studies that determine genetic relatedness between HIV isolates obtained from infected individuals, found that patients in the early stages of infections explain a high number of new infections. In conclusion, the limited information that is available suggest that sexual networks play a role in spread of HIV. Obtaining more information about sexual networks can be of benefit for modeling studies on HIV transmission and prevention.

dx.doi.org/10.1140/epjst/e2013-01934-8, hdl.handle.net/1765/60268
European Physical Journal: Special Topics
Department of Virology

van de Vijver, D.A.M.C, Prosperi, M, & Ramasco, J.J. (2013). Transmission of HIV in sexual networks in sub-Saharan Africa and Europe. European Physical Journal: Special Topics, 222(6), 1403–1411. doi:10.1140/epjst/e2013-01934-8