Mathematical models for HIV transmission dynamics: tools for social and behavioral science research

J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2008 Mar 1;47 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S34-9. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0b013e3181605da3.


HIV researchers have long appreciated the need to understand the social and behavioral determinants of HIV-related risk behavior, but the cumulative impact of individual behaviors on population-level HIV outcomes can be subtle and counterintuitive, and the methods for studying this are rarely part of a traditional social science or epidemiology training program. Mathematical models provide a way to examine the potential effects of the proximate biologic and behavioral determinants of HIV transmission dynamics, alone and in combination. The purpose of this article is to show how mathematical modeling studies have contributed to our understanding of the dynamics and disparities in the global spread of HIV. Our aims are to demonstrate the value that these analytic tools have for social and behavioral sciences in HIV prevention research, to identify gaps in the current literature, and to suggest directions for future research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Biological Factors*
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • HIV Infections / transmission*
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Risk-Taking*


  • Biological Factors