PSC Working Paper Series

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Working Paper

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Helleringer, Stéphane, Hans-Peter Kohler, Agnes Chimbiri, Praise Chatonda, and James Mkandawire. 2007. “The Likoma Network Study: Context, Data Collection and Initial Results.” PSC Working Paper Series PSC 07-05.


The sexual networks connecting members of a population have important consequences for the spread of sexually transmitted diseases including HIV. However, very few datasets currently exist that allow an investigation of the structure of sexual networks, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa where HIV epidemics have become generalized. In this paper, we describe the context and methods of the Likoma Network Study (LNS), a survey of complete sexual networks we conducted in Likoma island (Malawi) between October 2005 and March 2006. We start by reviewing theoretical arguments and empirical studies emphasizing the importance of network structures for the epidemiology of sexually and transmitted diseases. We describe the island setting of this study, and argue that the choice of an island as research site addresses the possible sources of bias in the collection of complete network data. We then describe in detail our empirical strategy for the identification of sexual networks, as well as for the collection of biomarker data (HIV infection). Finally, we provide initial results relating to the socioeconomic context of the island, the size and composition of sexual networks, the prevalence of HIV in the study population, the quality of the sexual network data, the determinants of successful contact tracing during the LNS, and basic measures of network connectivity.


Africa, Age, AIDS, Biomarkers, Birth, Birth control, Births, Census, Children, Condom use, Contexts, Contraception, Data, Data Collection, Death, Demographic measures, Demography, Developing countries, Disease, Diseases, Divorce, Education, Empirical study, Employment, Epidemics, Epidemiology, Extra-marital partners, Family, Fieldwork, First sex, Gender, Geographic location, Geography, Global Positioning Systems, GPS, Health, Health Behavior, Health Surveys, HIV, HIV infection, HIV prevalence, HIV risk factors, HIV risk perception, HIV risk perceptions, HIV risks, HIV status, HIV testing, HIV tests, HIV transmission, HIV/AIDS, Household, Household informants, Household structure, Households, Interviews, Island, Life course, Likoma, Likoma Network Study (LNS) , Malawi, Marital behavior, Marital dissolution, Marital history, Marital partners, Marriage, Marriage processes, Methods, Migrants, Migration, Mortality, Network epidemiology, Non-marital partners, Out-of-wedlock childbirth, Partners, Polygamy, Population Studies, Premarital partners, Premarital sex, Public Health, Quantitative, Rapid HIV test, Relationships, Remarriage, Residential Location, Sex, Sexual activity, Sexual behavior, Sexual behaviors, Sexual initiation, Sexual network, Sexual network partners, Sexual networks, Sexual partners, Sexual partnerships, Sexually transmitted diseases, Sexually transmitted infections, Social network, Social network analysis, Social networks, Sociocentric, Socio-demographic Characteristics, Socioeconomic, Sociology, Spouses, Statistics, STD, STI, Sub-Saharan Africa, Survey Data, Surveys, Timing of marriage, Unmarried partners



Date Posted: 25 June 2007

This document has been peer reviewed.