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Soc Sci Med. 1994 Jan;38(1):79-88.

Social networks and infectious disease: the Colorado Springs Study.

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Australian National University, Canberra.


The social network paradigm provides a set of concepts and methods useful for studying the structure of a population through which infectious agents transmitted during close personal contact spread, and an opportunity to develop improved disease control programs. The research discussed was a first attempt to use a social network approach to better understand factors affecting the transmission of a variety of pathogens, including hepatitis B virus (HBV) and human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV), in a population of prostitutes, injecting drug users (IDU) and their personal associates in a moderate-sized city (Colorado Springs, CO). Some of the challenges of studying large social networks in epidemiological research are described, some initial results reported and a new view of interconnections in an at risk population provided. Overall, for the first time in epidemiologic research a large number of individuals (over 600) were found connected to each other, directly or indirectly, using a network design. The average distance (along observed social relationships) between persons infected with HIV and susceptible persons was about three steps (3.1) in the core network region. All susceptibles in the core were within seven steps of HIV infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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