Network structure and the risk for HIV transmission among rural drug users

A. M. Young, A. B. Jonas, U. L. Mullins, D. S. Halgin, J. R. Havens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Research suggests that structural properties of drug users' social networks can have substantial effects on HIV risk. The purpose of this study was to investigate if the structural properties of Appalachian drug users' risk networks could lend insight into the potential for HIV transmission in this population. Data from 503 drug users recruited through respondent-driven sampling were used to construct a sociometric risk network. Network ties represented relationships in which partners had engaged in unprotected sex and/or shared injection equipment. Compared to 1,000 randomly generated networks, the observed network was found to have a larger main component and exhibit more cohesiveness and centralization than would be expected at random. Thus, the risk network structure in this sample has many structural characteristics shown to be facilitative of HIV transmission. This underscores the importance of primary prevention in this population and prompts further investigation into the epidemiology of HIV in the region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2341-2351
Number of pages11
JournalAIDS and Behavior
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01DA024598).


  • HIV
  • Injection drug users
  • Rural
  • Social network analysis
  • Sociometric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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