Modelling HIV in the injecting drug user population and the male homosexual population in a developed country context

Epidemics. 2012 Mar;4(1):48-56. doi: 10.1016/j.epidem.2011.12.001. Epub 2012 Jan 6.


In many high income countries men who have sex with men (MSM) and injecting drug users (IDUs) are the two groups with the highest HIV prevalence. Yet these two groups are not mutually exclusive, and those MSM who are also IDUs (MSM-IDUs) may be particularly vulnerable to HIV infection. This may be particularly relevant to the IDU population in countries, like the UK, with a much lower HIV prevalence amongst IDUs than MSM, as the MSM-IDUs could provide a route of HIV infection into the IDU population. In this research two alternative modelling approaches that describe the transmission dynamics of HIV within the IDU, MSM, and heterosexual populations are proposed. These models are constructed with two aims. The first is to investigate the possible impact of interventions that target HIV transmission in the MSM and IDU populations, and the second aim is to investigate the impact of the model structure on the model results. An examination of the assortativity of mixing between risk groups is also undertaken. The models are parameterised for England and Wales. While the MSM-IDU population is small, targeting MSM-IDUs was the most efficient intervention strategy in terms of cases averted per 100 individuals targeted with the intervention. Sensitivity analysis showed that variations in the assumed assortativity of mixing between the population groups in both models have a large impact on model results. This means that to generate quantitatively robust estimates for the impact of different intervention strategies it will be necessary to obtain estimates for assortativity values through empirical work.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • HIV Infections / transmission*
  • Homosexuality, Male / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Statistical
  • Prevalence
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / epidemiology*
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology