Network Analysis Among HIV-infected Young Black Men Who Have Sex With Men Demonstrates High Connectedness Around Few Venues

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Abstract

Background

Network analysis is useful for understanding sexual transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. We conducted egocentric and affiliation network analysis among HIV-infected young black men who have sex with men (MSM) in the Jackson, Mississippi, area to understand networks and connectedness of this population.

Methods

We interviewed 22 black MSM aged 17 to 25 years diagnosed as having HIV in 2006 to 2008. Participants provided demographic and geographic information about each sex partner during the 12 months before diagnosis and identified venues where they met these partners. We created affiliation network diagrams to understand connectedness of this population and identify venues that linked participants.

Results

The median number of partners reported was 4 (range, 1–16); a total of 97 partners (88 of whom were male) were reported. All but 1 participant were connected through a network of venues where they had met partners during the 12 months before diagnosis. Three venues were named as places for meeting partners by 13 of 22 participants. Participants reported having partners from all regions of Mississippi and 5 other states.

Conclusions

HIV-infected young black MSM in this analysis were linked by a small number of venues. These venues should be targeted for testing and prevention interventions. The pattern of meeting sex partners in a small number of venues suggests densely connected networks that propagate infection. This pattern, in combination with sexual partnerships with persons from outside Jackson, may contribute to spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections into or out the Jackson area.

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