Community Sexual Bridging Among Heterosexuals at High-Risk of HIV in New York City

Alan Neaigus, Samuel M. Jenness, Kathleen H. Reilly, Yoosik Youm, Holly Hagan, Travis Wendel, Camila Gelpi-Acosta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Community sexual bridging may influence the socio-geographic distribution of heterosexually transmitted HIV. In a cross-sectional study, heterosexual adults at high-risk of HIV were recruited in New York City (NYC) in 2010 for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-sponsored National HIV Behavioral Surveillance system. Eligible participants were interviewed about their HIV risk behaviors and sexual partnerships and tested for HIV. Social network analysis of the geographic location of participants’ recent sexual partnerships was used to calculate three sexual bridging measures (non-redundant ties, flow-betweenness and walk-betweenness) for NYC communities (defined as United Hospital Fund neighborhoods), which were plotted against HIV prevalence in each community. The analysis sample comprised 494 participants and 1534 sexual partnerships. Participants were 60.1 % male, 79.6 % non-Hispanic black and 19.6 % Hispanic race/ethnicity; the median age was 40 years (IQR 24–50); 37.7 % had ever been homeless (past 12 months); 16.6 % had ever injected drugs; in the past 12 months 76.7 % used non-injection drugs and 90.1 % engaged in condomless vaginal or anal sex; 9.6 % tested HIV positive (of 481 with positive/negative results). Sexual partnerships were located in 33 (78.6 %) of 42 NYC communities, including 13 “high HIV-spread communities”, 7 “hidden bridging communities”, 0 “contained high HIV prevalence communities”, and 13 “latent HIV bridging communities”. Compared with latent HIV bridging communities, the population racial/ethnic composition was more likely (p < 0.0001) to be black or Hispanic in high HIV-spread communities and to be black in hidden bridging communities. High HIV-spread and hidden bridging communities may facilitate the maintenance and spread of heterosexually transmitted HIV in black and Hispanic populations in NYC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)722-736
Number of pages15
JournalAIDS and Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Bridging
  • Communities
  • HIV
  • Heterosexual
  • New York City
  • Sexual networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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