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Sexual Network Structure Among a Household Sample of Urban African-American Adolescents in an Endemic Sexually Transmitted Infection Setting

February 9, 2009

The current study describes the structure of the sexual networks of a household sample of urban black adolescents in an area with moderate endemic rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The authors note that while such networks play a key role in STI and HIV transmission, relatively few empirical reports exist about their structure, owing to the challenges of collecting network data.

In the Bayview-Hunter's Point neighborhood of San Francisco, random-digit calling was used to recruit a household sample of black adolescents. Snowball sampling was used to recruit participants' recent partners, and the partners of partners. Testing for current gonorrhea or chlamydia infection was conducted using biologic samples. Social network analysis methods were used to describe the resulting social networks' characteristics.

The results indicated that 166 sexually active participants were connected to 388 network members in 159 separate network components. A relatively high prevalence of bacterial STIs was found (13 percent); however, components were small (3.5 people on average, and half involving only two people), linear and acyclic. Compared to males, females were less central in their networks by local measures but were just as central when overall structure was taken into account.

"Our results confirm, in a new setting, previous observations that sexual network structures necessary for endemic transmission of gonorrhea and chlamydia are sparsely connected," the authors concluded.

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Adapted from:
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
01.01.2009; Vol. 36; No. 1: P. 41-48; Caroline M. Fichtenberg, PhD; Stephen Q. Muth, BA; Beth Brown, MA, MPA; Nancy S. Padian, PhD; Thomas A. Glass, PhD; Jonathan M. Ellen, MD

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also's HIV/AIDS Resource Center for African Americans
HIV and Me: An African American's Guide to Living With HIV
More on HIV Prevention Research Among African-American Teens


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