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A sexual network is a social network that is defined by the sexual relationships within a set of individuals.

Studies and discoveries

Like other forms of social networks, sexual networks can be formally studied using the mathematics of graph theory and network theory.[1][2]

Recent epidemiological studies [3] have investigated sexual networks, and suggest that the statistical properties of sexual networks are crucial to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Sub-graphs, both large and small, can be defined within the overall sexual network graph; for example, people who frequent particular bars or clubs, belong to a particular ethnic group or take part in a particular type of sexual activity, or are part of a particular outbreak of an STD. In particular, assortative mixing between people with large numbers of sexual partners seems to be an important factor in the spread of STD.

In a surprising result, mathematical models predict that the sexual network graph for the human race appears to have a single giant component that indirectly links almost all people who have had more than one sexual partner, and a great many of those who have had only one sexual partner (if their one sexual partner was themselves part of the giant component). Most people who are not part of the giant component are either virgins, or couples who have never had sex with anyone except each other.

For more detailed epidemiological work, the time sequence of sexual contacts is important.

See also


  1. Liljeros, Fredrik, Christofer R. Edling, Luis A. Nunes Amaral (2003). Sexual networks: implications for the transmission of sexually transmitted infections. Microbes and Infection 5: 189–196.
  2. Liljeros, Fredrik, Christofer R. Edling, Luis A. Nunes Amaral, H. Eugene Stanley, Yvonne Aberg (2001). The web of human sexual contacts. Nature 411: 907–908.
  3. Rocha, L.E.C., Fredrik Liljeros, Petter Holme (2010). Information dynamics shape the sexual networks of Internet-mediated prostitution. Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences 107 (13): 5706–5713.

Further reading

  • M Kretzschmar. "Sexual network structure and sexually transmitted disease prevention: a modeling perspective". Sexually Transmitted Diseases volume 27, number 10 (November 2000): pages 627– 35.
  • P. De et al. Sexual network analysis of a gonorrhea outbreak Sex Transm Infect 2004;80:280-285
  • P S Bearman, J Moody, K Stovel "Chains of affection: The structure of adolescent romantic and sexual networks,” American Journal of Sociology , Vol. 110, No. 1, 2004.
  • L E C Rocha, F Liljeros and P Holme Information dynamics shape the sexual networks of Internet-mediated prostitution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences free online (March 2010).
  • Apostolopoulos, Y., Sönmez, S., Shattell, M., Kronenfeld, J., Smith, D., & Stanton, S. (2011). Cruising for Truckers on Highways and the Internet: Sexual Networks and Infection Risk. AIDS Education & Prevention, 23(3), 249-266. doi:10.1521/aeap.2011.23.3.249
  • O'Connor, M. L. (1999). Sexual Network Patterns Contribute to Racial Disparities in Disease Risk. Family Planning Perspectives, 31(6), 309. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
  • Choudhury, B., Risley, C., Ghani, A., Bishop, C., Ward, H., Fenton, K., & ... Spratt, B. (n.d). Identification of individuals with gonorrhoea within sexual networks: a population-based study. Lancet. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(06)69003-X
  • Bearman, P. S., Moody, J., & Stovel, K. (2004). Chains of Affection: The Structure of Adolescent Romantic and Sexual Networks[1]. American Journal of Sociology, 110(1), 44-91. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
  • Day, S. S., & Ward, H. H. (1998). Sexual networks: The integration of social and genetic data. Social Science & Medicine, 47(12), 1981. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
  • Nyanzi, S., Nyanzi, B., Kalina, B., & Pool, R. (n.d). Mobility, sexual networks and exchange among bodabodamen in southwest Uganda. Taylor & Francis Ltd. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
  • Social and sexual networks: Their role in the spread of HIV/AIDS among young gay men.

Morris, Martina; Zavisca, Jane; Dean, Laura AIDS Education and Prevention, Vol 7(Suppl), 1995, 24-35.

External links

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