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HIV transmissions by stage in dynamic sexual partnerships.

Abstract

Most models assessing relative transmissions during different progressive stages of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection assume that infections are transmitted through instantaneous sexual contacts. In reality, however, HIV will often be transmitted through repeated sex acts during partnerships that form and dissolve at varying rates. We sought to understand how dynamic sexual partnerships would influence transmissions during different progression stages of HIV infection: primary HIV infection (PHI) and chronic stage. Using a system of ordinary differential equations with a pair approximation technique, we constructed a model of HIV transmission in a homogeneous population in which sexual partnerships form and dissolve. We derived analytical expressions for useful epidemiological quantities such as basic reproduction number and also did simulation runs of the model. Partnership dynamics strongly influence transmissions during progressive stages of HIV infection. The fraction of transmissions during PHI has a U-shaped relationship with respect to the rate of partnership change, where the minimum and maximum occur given partnerships of about 100 days and fixed partnerships, respectively. Models that assume instantaneous contacts may overestimate transmissions during PHI for real, dynamic sexual partnerships with varying (non-zero) durations.

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