Assessment of the Risk of HIV Spread Via Non-Steady Heterosexual Partners in the U.S. Population

  • Joan L. Aron
  • P. Sankara Sarma
Part of the Lecture Notes in Biomathematics book series (LNBM, volume 83)


We evaluate the conditions for the initial spread of HIV infection via non-steady heterosexual partners in the U.S. population. The main source of data is a 1988 U.S. survey on sexual partners in the 12 months prior to the survey. The behavioral data are coupled with a multi-state life table constructed from 1985 U.S. rates of marriage, divorce and mortality. The life table allows for projections that take age, sex and marital status into account.

We consider the basic reproductive rate of HIV infection from the most sexually active group of adults, 18-year-old unmarried males. Using a period of infectivity of 10 years, an HIV-infected 18-year-old unmarried male might contact, on average, around 100 males via his non-steady female sexual partners and their non-steady male sexual partners. This estimate does depend on the age and marital status of the chosen partners. However, the most important parameter is the product of per-partner probabilities of male-to-female and female-to-male transmission. This quantity would have to exceed roughly 1/100 in order for the epidemic to spread via non-steady heterosexual partners. Although current estimates suggest this is unlikely, major uncertainties remain concerning HIV transmission to both steady and non-steady heterosexual partners.


Human Immunodeficiency Virus Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection Female Partner General Social Survey Human Immunodeficiency Virus Transmission 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joan L. Aron
    • 1
  • P. Sankara Sarma
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of Population Dynamics, School of Hygiene and Public HealthThe Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA

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