Social networks and the spread of infectious diseases: the AIDS example

Soc Sci Med. 1985;21(11):1203-16. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(85)90269-2.


Conceptualizing a population as a set of individuals linked together to form a large social network provides a fruitful perspective for better understanding the spread of some infectious diseases. Data related to AIDS (the acquired immune deficiency syndrome) were used to illustrate the potential usefulness of a network approach in evaluating the infectious agent hypothesis when studying a disease or disease outbreak of unknown etiology and in developing strategies to limit the spread of an infectious agent transmitted through personal relationships.

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / transmission
  • Communicable Diseases / transmission*
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Homosexuality
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Retroviridae Infections / transmission
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Social Environment*