Transmission of HIV in sexual networks in sub-Saharan Africa and Europe

David van de Vijver, MCF Prosperi, JJ Ramasco

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3 Citations (Scopus)


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.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)1403-1411
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Physical Journal-Special Topics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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