HIV Transmission by Stage of Infection and Pattern of Sexual Partnerships


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Abstract

Background:Most model analyses examining the role of primary HIV infection in the HIV epidemic ignore the fact that HIV is often transmitted through long-term, concurrent sexual partnerships. We sought to understand how duration and concurrency of sexual partnerships affect the role of transmissions during primary HIV infection.Methods:We constructed a stochastic individual-based model of HIV transmission in a homogeneous population where partnerships form and dissolve. Using observed contagiousness by stage of HIV infection, the fraction of transmissions during primary HIV infection at equilibrium was examined across varying partnership durations and concurrencies.Results:The fraction of transmissions during primary HIV infection has a U-shaped relationship with partnership duration. The fraction drops with increasing partnership duration for partnerships with shorter average duration but rises for partnerships with longer average duration. Partnership concurrency modifies this relationship. The fraction of transmissions during primary HIV infection increases with increasing partnership concurrency for partnerships with shorter average duration, but decreases for partnerships with longer average duration.Conclusions:Partnership patterns strongly influence the transmission of HIV and do so differentially by stage of infection. Dynamic partnerships need to be taken into account to make a robust inference on the role of different stages of HIV infection.

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