Behavioral Convergence: Implications for Mathematical Models of Sexually Transmitted Infection Transmission

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Recent trends in the behaviors of some groups with high sexual activity and of the general population in some countries suggest that sexual behavior profiles of high and low sexual activity categories may be converging and may call into question the assumptions around sexual mixing that are built into theoretical models of sexually transmitted infections (STIs)/human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) transmission dynamics. One category of high sexual activity, sex work, has been undergoing modification in many societies, becoming more acceptable, more dispersed, and larger in volume in some societies and shrinking in others. Concurrent with changes in the characteristics of sex work, the accumulating data on the sexual behaviors of the general population suggest a shift toward those of sex workers, including large numbers of sex partners and short-duration partnerships. The closing of the gap between behaviors associated with high and low sexual activity may have important implications for theories of sexual structure and models of transmission dynamics for STIs, including HIV infection.

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