Using social networks to understand and intervene on HIV epidemic spread (360G-Wellcome-210479_Z_18_Z)
Young people in sub-Saharan Africa are central to ending the HIV epidemic. However, uptake of proven protective interventions is low and evidence on who does/does not engage is limited. Theory predicts that behaviours and intervention uptake cluster within social networks. Interventions in other settings have successfully leveraged social ties to improve intervention impact. I aim to: (1) use novel methods to identify how social networks pattern risk for HIV acquisition; and (2) test the feasibility of using such knowledge to improve intervention uptake. I will undertake this work at the Africa Health Research Institute in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Following qualitative interviews with young people exploring their social networks and social norms, we will then quantitatively follow 600 15-24 year-olds, together with their close friends and family, for three years. Using these longitudinal data, we will statistically model how social contacts influence behaviour and HSV/HIV acquisition. We will then quantitatively and qualitatively evaluate the feasibility of using network-selected peer-educators to promote uptake of HIV self-tests and subsequent treatment. We will compare how influential peer-educators differ from randomly selected ones in terms of willingness to be involved, training dynamics and health impact.
£1,244,577 21 Feb 2018