Structural network position but not individual risk behaviour is associated with HIV infection among a population of men at highest risk for HIV in the United States

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Structural network position but not individual risk behaviour is associated with HIV infection among a population of men at highest risk for HIV in the United States

N.S. Shah1, J. Iveniuk2, S.Q. Muth3, S. Michaels4, J.-A. Jose5, E. Laumann2, J. Schneider1

1University of Chicago, Department of Infectious Disease, Chicago, United States, 2University of Chicago, Department of Sociology, Chicago, United States, 3Quintus-ential Solutions, Colorado Springs, United States, 4University of Chicago, National Opinion Research Center, Chicago, United States, 5Chicago Medical School, Chicago, United States

 

Background: Much research on individual-level behavior and its association with HIV has been conducted over the past three decades. Social and sexual network analyses have received some attention, but have been mostly limited to debates surrounding concurrency, mixing and social support/influence. We examine two structural properties of social and sexual networks of younger Black men who have sex with men (YBMSM), centrality and bridging, and their association with HIV infection. Methods: We utilized respondent driven sampling (RDS) with YBMSM seeds selected from South Chicago to generate a social network. Respondents (n=154) also listed up to 5 personal network members. A conservative matching algorithm was developed to identify respondents and network members for which there was more than one likely observation in the data. A final social network with unique participants (n=783) was generated as well as sex sub-network (n=245). In-degree centrality and constraint (a measure of bridging (high constraint=low bridging)) were calculated for social and sexual networks.

Results: Participants were 80.5% male, 62% < 30 years, 94.0% Black and 27.2% HIV infected. Men were 77.2% MSM, 13.8% bisexual and 8.2% heterosexual. Ties were characterized as sex 19.1%, and social 80.9% (i.e. friendship).

Sociodemographic, risk-behavior and network structure variables associated with HIV included age, sexual orientation and bridging.
Higher bridging (link two groups that are otherwise unlinked) were more likely to be HIV infected (OR 1.87; (1.11-3.14)). Sex-drug use, unprotected anal sex, group-sex, alcohol use and injection drug-use were associated with one another but not with HIV infection. Conclusions: Having a bridging position is associated with HIV prevalence in the social, but not sexual networks of YBMSM. Future research that focuses on social network position might be utilized to facilitate biomedical treatment and prevention in populations at greatest risk for HIV.

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Posted on July 23, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Structural network position but not individual risk behaviour is associated with HIV infection among a population of men at highest risk for HIV in the United States.

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