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Leng, T; Keeling, MJ (2018) Concurrency of partnerships, consistency with data, and control of sexually transmitted infections. Epidemics 25 35-46

Leng, T; Keeling, MJ (2018) Concurrency of partnerships, consistency with data, and control of sexually transmitted infections. Epidemics 25 35-46

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are a globally increasing public health problem. Mathematical models, carefully matched to available epidemiological and behavioural data, have an important role to play in predicing the action of control measures. Here, we explore the effect of concurrent sexual partnerships on the control of a generic STI with susceptible-infected-susceptible dynamics. Concurrency refers to being in more than one sexual partnership at the same time, and is difficult to measure accurately. We assess the impact of concurrency through the development of three nested pair-formation models: one where infection can only be transmitted via stable sexual partnerships, one where infection can also be transmitted via casual partnerships between single individuals, and one where those individuals in stable partnerships can also acquire infection from casual partnerships. For each model, we include the action of vaccination before sexual debut to inform about the ability to control. As expected, for a fixed transmission rate, concurrency increases both the endemic prevalence of infection and critical level of vaccination required to eliminate the disease significantly. However, when the transmission rate is scaled to maintain a fixed endemic prevalence across models, concurrency has a far smaller impact upon the critical level of vaccination required. Further, when we also constrain the models to have a fixed number of new partnerships over time (both long-term and casual), then increasing concurrency can slightly decrease the critical level of vaccination. These results highlight that accurate measures and models of concurrency may not always be needed for reliable forecasts when models are closely matched to prevalence data. We find that, while increases in concurrency within a population are likely to generate public-health problems, the inclusion of concurrency may be unnecessary when constructing models to determine the efficacy of the control of STIs by vaccination.

Thu 29 Nov 2018, 08:17