“Big events” and networks

Some, but not all, “big events” such as wars, revolutions, socioeconomic transitions, economic collapses, and ecological disasters in recent years seem to lead to large-scale HIV outbreaks (Friedman et al, in press; Hankins et al 2002). This was true of transitions in the USSR, South Africa and Indonesia, for example, but not those in the Philippines or (so far) in Argentina. It has been hypothesized that whether or not HIV outbreaks occur is shaped in part by the nature and extent of changes in the numbers of voluntary or involuntary risk-takers, which itself may be related to the growth of roles such as sex-sellers or drug sellers; the riskiness of the behaviors engaged in by risk-takers; and changes in sexual and injection networks and other “mixing patterns” variables. Each of these potential causal processes, in turn, is shaped by the nature of pre-existing social networks and the patterns of content of normative regulation and communication that happen within these social networks – and how these social networks and their characteristics are changed by the “big event” in question. We will present ideas about what research is needed to help understand these events and to help guide both indigenous community-based efforts to prevent HIV outbreaks and also to guide those who organize external intervention efforts and aid.

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Full citation:
Friedman SR, Rossi D, Flom PL (2006).
“Big events” and networks
Connections, 27 (1), 9-14.