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Sexual Network Structure and Sexually Transmitted Disease Prevention: A Modeling Perspective

Kretzschmar, Mirjam PhD

Original Articles

Background: Mathematical modeling techniques are being used increasingly to plan public health policy for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

Goal: An introduction to various aspects of network structure and sexually transmitted disease prevention using mathematical and simulation models.

Study Design: A short overview is given about some modeling approaches that are presently available. The effect of partnership duration on the spread of sexually transmitted diseases is discussed in the context of pair-formation models. Network models, which take concurrent partnerships into account, are discussed as a natural extension of pair-formation models.

Results: Results obtained by applying different modeling approaches to analyzing the efficacy of contact tracing in reducing the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases are summarized.

Conclusion: Partnership duration and network structure should be taken into account when estimating the impact of sexually transmitted disease prevention. Contact tracing can contribute significantly to reducing incidence and prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases. modeling has to be developed further to gain a better understanding of the relationship of network structure and the spread of specific sexually transmitted diseases.

From the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Department of Infectious Diseases Epidemiology, Bilthoven, The Netherlands

Reprint requests: Mirjam Kretzschmar, PhD, Department of Infectious Diseases Epidemiology, P.O. Box 1, 3720 BA Bilthoven, The Netherlands. E-mail:

Received for publication August 16, 1999, revised April 26, 2000, and accepted April 26, 2000.

© Copyright 2000 American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association