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The AIDS Disease Network

A graph is something which contains nodes and pairs of nodes are connected by edges. One aspect of real life that can be mapped by a graph is the network created by Human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS). Since the outbreak of AIDS in the 1980’s there has been much attention devoted to containing the spread of this and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). One way doctors’ work to slow the spread is by requiring any individual recently diagnosed with HIV to notify any and all sexual partners of the situation. It is clear that this is a preventative measure established to help stop the spread of the disease.

It is also an informative network because it helps explain certain disparities and patterns in the disease network. For example, it has been shown that African-American men and Homosexual men are much more likely to get infected by sexually transmitted diseases. Sources show that the spread has since been calmed and the large outbreak of AIDS has slowed down considerably. In addition, it also shows to educated individuals that sexual intercourse isn’t the only way that an individual can get HIV, even sharing needles; improper blood transfusions, etc. are also large contributors to the spread of the disease.

This is related to the concepts discussed in class because in this network, the nodes are the individuals and edges are the sexual relationships between people. There are no strong or weak ties in this graph. In certain locations of the graph there could be isolated nodes where the cardinality of the connected component is only two, such as a married couple who both have HIV. Whereas in other sections there is a single node linking large sets of people, these would be the bridges discussed in class since they joined the two previously independent sets. This could be as a result of one night stands or individuals with many sexual partners.
The important thing to note is that the AIDS network and the theory of it proposed by doctors and the government has helped to slow down the spread of the disease. While it is still prevalent in many rural environments around the world, the decline in rate of spreading has been in contribution from networks like this one.

References:
http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/statistics/basics/ataglance.html
http://caps.ucsf.edu/factsheets/sexual-networks/

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