Identification of Network-Based Risk Factors Associated with Gonorrhea
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The evolving antimicrobial resistance coupled with a recent increase in incidence highlights the importance of reducing gonococcal transmission. Establishing novel risk factors associated with gonorrhea facilitates the development of appropriate prevention and disease control strategies. Sexual Network Analysis (NA), a novel research technique used to further understand sexually transmitted infections, was used to identify network-based risk factors in a defined region in Ontario, Canada experiencing an increase in the incidence of gonorrhea. Linear network structures were identified as important reservoirs of gonococcal transmission. Additionally, a significant association between a central network position and gonorrhea was observed. The central participants were more likely to be younger, report a greater number of risk factors, engage in anonymous sex, have multiple sex partners in the past six months and have sex with the same sex. The network-based risk factors identified through sexual NA, serving as a method of analyzing local surveillance data, support the development of strategies aimed at reducing gonococcal spread.