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Dynamic sex roles among men who have sex with men and transmissions from primary HIV infection.

Abstract

We modeled HIV transmission with 8 compartments defined by 4 behavioral groups, with different anal-insertive and anal-receptive combinations, and 2 stages of infection. We explored the effects of fluctuating behavioral categories on endemic prevalence and the fraction of transmissions from primary HIV. We varied transition rates to develop the theory on how behavioral fluctuation affects infection patterns, and we used the transition rates in a Netherlands cohort to assess overall effects in a real setting.

The dynamics of change in behavior-group status over time observed in the Netherlands cohort amplifies the prevalence of infection and the fraction of transmissions from primary HIV, resulting in the highest proportions of transmissions being from people with primary HIV. Fluctuation between dual- or receptive-role periods and no-anal-sex periods mainly determines this amplification. In terms of the total transmissions, the dual-role risk group is dominant. Fluctuation between insertive and receptive roles decreases the fraction of transmissions from primary HIV, but such fluctuation is infrequently observed.

Previous studies estimating the fraction of transmissions from persons with primary HIV have not focused on the effects of switching sex role in male homosexual populations. Such behavioral fluctuations can increase the contribution of primary HIV in the overall population.

The fraction of transmissions from primary HIV is considerably raised by fluctuations in insertive and receptive anal sex behaviors. This increase occurs even when primary HIV or later infection status does not influence risk behavior. Thus, it is not simply biology but also behavior patterns and social contexts that determine the fraction of transmissions from primary HIV. Moreover, each primary HIV transmission has a larger population effect than each later infection transmission because the men to whom one transmits from primary HIV carry on more chains of transmissions than the men to whom one transmits later in infection. Reducing transmissions from primary HIV should be a primary focus of HIV control efforts.

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