Yiqun Chen

Social Networks for the fight against HIV in East African Communities
Applied Mathematics, Chemical Biology
Spring 2017

The high burden of undiagnosed and untreated HIV in sub-Saharan Africa has been a major global health issue for the recent decades. Nature of transmission of HIV, namely, through risky behavior that involve intimate contacts rather than casual contagions, calls for a novel perspective through social network analysis: by building social networks of the local communities, we hope to identify underlying community structures including social hubs and intimate friend zones, which would facilitate us in designing better HIV prevention and intervention schemes. My research will make use of the data collected under the SEARCH (SEARCH Sustainable East Africa Research on Community Health) program, which are of unprecedented volume and quality, and aims to both quantitatively characterize social networks in East African communities and quantify peer effect in these HIV networks, i.e. whether risky behavior such as alcoholism and unprotected sex often prevails in a dense, small circle of adolescents.