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Am J Epidemiol. 2011 Jul 1;174(1):81-9. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwr035. Epub 2011 May 3.

Sexually transmitted disease core theory: roles of person, place, and time.

Author information

  • 1Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, 155 College Street, 6th Floor, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. dionne.gesink@utoronto.ca


The authors' purpose was to expand sexually transmitted disease core theory by examining the roles of person, place, and time in differentiating geographic core areas from outbreak areas. The authors mapped yearly census-tract-level syphilis rates for San Francisco, California, based on new primary and secondary syphilis cases reported to the San Francisco City sexually transmitted disease surveillance program between January 1, 1985, and December 31, 2007. SaTScan software (Information Management Services, Inc., Silver Spring, Maryland) was used to identify geographic clusters of significantly elevated syphilis rates over space and time. The authors graphed epidemic curves for 1) core areas, 2) outbreak areas, 3) neither core nor outbreak areas, and 4) noncore areas, where noncore areas included outbreaks, and stratified these curves according to demographic characteristics. Five clusters of significantly elevated primary and secondary syphilis rates were identified. A 5-year threshold was useful for differentiating core clusters from outbreak clusters. Epidemic curves for core areas, outbreak areas, neither core nor outbreak areas, and noncore areas were perfectly synchronized in phase trends and wavelength over time, even when broken down by demographic characteristics. Between epidemics, the occurrence of syphilis affected all demographic groups equally. During an epidemic, a temporary disparity in syphilis occurrence arose and a homogeneous core group of cases could be defined.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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