Generating a heterosexual bipartite network embedded in social network.


We describe an approach to generate a heterosexual network with a prescribed joint-degree distribution embedded in a prescribed large-scale social contact network. The structure of a sexual network plays an important role in how all sexually transmitted infections (STIs) spread. Generating an ensemble of networks that mimics the real-world is crucial to evaluating robust mitigation strategies for controlling STIs. Most of the current algorithms to generate sexual networks only use sexual activity data, such as the number of partners per month, to generate the sexual network. Real-world sexual networks also depend on biased mixing based on age, location, and social and work activities. We describe an approach to use a broad range of social activity data to generate possible heterosexual networks. We start with a large-scale simulation of thousands of people in a city as they go through their daily activities, including work, school, shopping, and activities at home. We extract a social network from these activities where the nodes are the people, and the edges indicate a social interaction, such as working in the same location. This social network captures the correlations between people of different ages, living in different locations, their economic status, and other demographic factors. We use the social contact network to define a bipartite heterosexual network that is embedded within an extended social network. The resulting sexual network captures the biased mixing inherent in the social network, and models based on this pairing of networks can be used to investigate novel intervention strategies based on the social contacts among infected people. We illustrate the approach in a model for the spread of chlamydia in the heterosexual network representing the young sexually active community in New Orleans.

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Zhuolin Qu

Assistant Professor
University of Texas at San Antonio

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