Date of Award

7-27-2009

Degree Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Richard Rothenberg, MD, MPH - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Michael Eriksen, Sc.D

Third Advisor

Dr. Frances McCarty, Ph.D.

Abstract

Adolescents are disproportionately affected by a wide range of STDs due to high level of personal risk behaviors and poor access to STD prevention services. As documented in numerous previous studies, STDs could lead to many serious consequences to adolescents’ health and the overall well being of society. One prominent concern is that STDs increase adolescent’s risk in acquiring HIV infection. Among all STDs, Chlamydia is the most prevalent in adolescents as well as in the general population. No previous studies have attempted to examine the social interaction of adolescent population heavily affected by Chlamydia. In this study, we would like to take a step forward to identify the difference in behavioral risk level between Chlamydia positive and negative adolescent social network and to describe any impacts of these groups on the transmission of other STDs using social network analysis of data collected from adolescent population in Dekalb County, Georgia. The results indicated highest behavioral risk in the negative girl index respondents’ contacts followed by those of positive boys, positive girls and finally negative boys. However STD prevalence in the contacts among these different groups did not follow the same pattern. Prevalence of STD is highest in the negative girls’ contact group followed by that of positive boys, negative boys; and interestingly positive boys’ contacts exhibit the lowest STD rate. As informed by the results, the presence of infection is not a sufficient indicator of risks; thus, network characteristic was also examined to accurately determine transmission dynamics in this population. Social and sexual network structures among these four different index groups and their contacts suggested low level of STD transmission.

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