Recent papers of interest, week 31

Some recent catch-up reading that’s caught my eye; all HIV stuff it turns out, and as a bonus, all freely accessible:

  • How important are viral introductions vs. local transmission for sustaining an epidemic in rural Uganda?  In Rakai, it seems, pretty important.  I really liked how the authors triangulate spatial, phylogenetic and mathematical modelling approaches to build a solid narrative. And the topic seems really important in the context of targeting key subpopulations within generalized epidemics – something that is rising up the prevention agenda, apparently/hopefully. The primary author also has some recent work (presented at CROI this year) on which partner brings HIV into stable couples; an area in desperate need of good data.
  • Unconditional cash to caregivers of children affects age of sexual debut, but not other risk behaviours, in Kenya. This study starts to get at which behaviours are, and are not, driven by economic factors – as opposed to cultural or other norms.  I would have liked to have seen data on marriage age too, but since that doesn’t typically happen while the child is within the home, perhaps that’s too distant an outcome.
  • A review of some heterogeneities in infection dynamics that provoked some thoughts, although not about modelling, which is the nominal reason for the piece.  Notably, the authors highlight that there may well be heterogeneity in susceptibility, which will practically act to fragment sexual transmission networks as less-susceptibles act more like recovered individuals.  And that alloimmunity to a partner’s expressed antigens may mean that infection risk from an ongoing partner recently infected may be less than expected, while that from a new partner with a chronic infection may be higher than expected (due to no acquired alloimmunity). I must admit this is my first introduction to alloimmunity – it looks like there’s a whole world of research out there on this, with some interesting paradoxical results. Happy reading.

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