Age-dependent partnering and the HIV transmission chain: a microsimulation analysis

August 28, 2013


Efficient planning and evaluation of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention programmes requires an understanding of what sustains the epidemic, including the mechanism by which HIV transmission keeps pace with the ageing of the infected population. Recently, more detailed population models have been developed which represent the epidemic with sufficient detail to characterize the dynamics of ongoing transmission. Here, we describe the structure and parameters of such a model, called EMOD-HIV v. 0.7. We analyse the chains of transmission that allow the HIV epidemic to propagate across age groups in this model. In order to prevent the epidemic from dying out, the virus must find younger victims faster than its extant victims age and die. The individuals who enable such transmission events in EMOD-HIV v. 0.7 are higher concurrency, co-infected males aged 26–29 and females aged 23–24. Prevention programmes that target these populations could efficiently interrupt the mechanisms that allow HIV to transmit at a pace that is faster than the progress of time.