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Centre for Statistics (CENSTAT) : project R-9228

Title : Predicting the impact of targeted prevention strategies for HIV in men-having-sex-with-men (MSM) and sub-Saharan African migrants (SAM) (R-9228)
Abstract: Worldwide, approximately 36.7 million people are infected with HIV, among them 18 758 are living in Belgium. On a daily basis, 2.5 new HIV infections have occurred during 2016 In Belgium. Most of these HIV infections occur among men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM) and sub-Saharan African migrants (SAM). For these populations it is important to study which behaviour (e.g. number of partners, sex-drug use) is related to increased risk for HIV, and which of the settings they visit for social and sexual contacts (e.g. gay disco, bars, community events, etc.) are associated with a higher level of risk behaviour. In this project, we will develop novel statistical methods for deriving this information from questionnaires already conducted at venues regularly visited by these populations. While traditional statistical methods are not able to deal with the clustered structure of these survey data, the novel models used in this project will uncover the sexual networks in which HIV is acquired and passed on. Building on the ample expertise of our research team, we will use and adapt network models which can take into account the similarities of individuals' replies to the questionnaires (e.g. number of partners, reported HIV status partner) of people visiting the same settings. The results will indicate which individuals and which venues are at the highest risk for HIV transmission and therefore should be targeted with interventions. With stakeholders' input, the modelling will also be used to test the effect of selected interventions (e.g. condom use, reduction of number of partners, PrEP use). The conclusions will be translated into guidance for the development of prevention programmes to reduce HIV transmission among MSM and SAM in Belgium.
Period of project : 1/08/2018to31/08/2019

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