, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 29-30
Date: 29 Oct 2009

The Mathematics of Concurrent Partnerships and HIV: A Commentary on Lurie and Rosenthal, 2009

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In their commentary “Concurrent Partnerships as a Driver of the HIV Epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa? The Evidence is Limited” [1] Mark Lurie and Samantha Rosenthal call for more research on the role sexual partnership concurrency may play in the spread of sexually transmitted infections. Unfortunately this very sensible recommendation is undermined by a number of errors, beginning with the first sentence.

“Sub-Saharan Africa contains only 3% of the global population,” the authors state, “but an alarming 68% of the world’s adults and children living with HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS 2007)." In fact, sub-Saharan Africa is home to 12.6% of the world's population, not 3%. (World Population Prospects: 2008 Revision).

Evidence for the concurrency hypothesis rests on three bodies of research:

  1. Empirical studies of the prevalence of concurrency in different populations.

  2. Ethnographic studies suggesting that the concurrency hypothesis is plausible to many people in Africa.

  3. Mathematical modeling studies demon ...