Sexually Transmitted Diseases

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Sexually Transmitted Diseases:
Original Articles

Social Network Methods for Endemic Foci of Syphilis: A Pilot Project

Rothenberg, Richard MD, MPH*; Kimbrough, Lisa MPH†‡; Lewis‐Hardy, Ruby BA§; Heath, Bruce BA†‡; Williams, O. C. BA; Tambe, Pradyna MD; Johnson, David BA‡§; Schrader, Mark BA, MPA§

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Abstract

Background:: Social network methods have improved our understanding of sexually transmitted disease transmission dynamics, and may be of use in routine field operations for partner notification.

Goal:: To augment traditional syphilis‐control activities with social network methods in an Atlanta area with high syphilis morbidity.

Study Design:: Disease investigators conducted interviews, used network diagrams to prioritize their work, and relied on network connections for finding hard‐to‐reach persons.

Results:: A total of 396 contacts were elicited from 48 infected and 50 uninfected persons. The cumulative prevalence of syphilis was 12.6%, and 24 persons infected with HIV were identified. Network methods disclosed a large, interconnected group (276 persons) characterized by high network centrality and the substantial presence of small, interactive subgroups (microstructures).

Conclusion:: The network approach is a feasible field technique, and can identify core groups involved in the intense transmission of syphilis. The targeted, network‐based approach may be useful in attempts to eliminate syphilis.

© Copyright 2000 American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association

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