Are you HIV invincible? A probabilistic study of discordant couples in the context of HIV transmission.


A number of factors have been identified that are related to sexual and injecting HIV transmission. We developed a probabilistic mathematical model to put these factors together and interpret risks in the context of individual behavior among injecting drug-using (IDU) couples in St. Petersburg, Russia. Some HIV-discordant couples have unprotected sex and sometimes inject drugs together but stay discordant for a long time, while some individuals acquire HIV on the first encounter. We considered existing estimates of HIV transmission risks through injecting and sexual contacts to develop a predictive survival model for an individual who is exposed to HIV through intimate relationships. We computed simulated survival curves for a number of behavioral scenarios and discussed sources of simulated uncertainty. We then applied the model to a longitudinal study of HIV-discordant couples and validated the model's forecast. Although individual prediction of seroconversion time appeared impossible, the ability to rank behavioral patterns in terms of HIV risk and to estimate the probability of survival HIV-free will be important to educators and counselors.

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