The relationship between age and sex partner counts during the mpox outbreak in the UK, 2022

Brainard, Julii, Smith, Louise E., Potts, Henry W. W. and Ruben, G. James (2023) The relationship between age and sex partner counts during the mpox outbreak in the UK, 2022. PLoS One, 18 (9). ISSN 1932-6203

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BACKGROUND: Understanding the dynamics of an infectious disease outbreak linked to sexual activity requires valid expectations of likely counts of unique sex partners during the infectious period. Typically, age is the key demographic trait linked to expected partner count, with many transmission models removing adults from the sexually active pool abruptly at a pre-specified age threshold. Modelling the rate of decline in partner counts with age would benefit from a better description of empirical evidence. METHODS: During the 2022 mpox epidemic in the UK, we asked individuals about their partner counts in the preceding three weeks, which is about the same as usual infectious period for persons with active mpox. We used negative binomial regression (all responses) and Weibull regression (non-zero responses) to analyse the relationship between age and partner counts, adjusted for other demographic data (such as education level and occupation), sub-dividing by three types of respondent: men who have sex with men (MSM), men who have sex with women, and women who have sex with men. RESULTS: Most respondents had zero or one recent partner, all distributions were skewed. There was a relatively linear declining relationship between age and partner counts for heterosexual partnership groups, but a peak in partner counts and concurrency for MSMs in middle age years (age 35-54), especially for MSM who seemed to be in a highly sexually active subgroup. CONCLUSION: Useful data were collected that can be used to describe sex partner counts during the British mpox epidemic and that show distinctive partner count relationships with age, dependent on partnership type.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding Information: The study was funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR). This work was funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research Health Protection Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) in Emergency Preparedness and Response, a partnership between the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), King’s College London (KCL) and the University of East Anglia (UEA). The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NIHR, UKHSA, Department of Health and Social Care, UEA, KCL, or University College London (UCL). For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Elizabeth Fearon at the UCL Institute for Global Health suggested collection of data about partner counts, how to phrase the questions and time boundaries to use. Thanks to the Terrence Higgins Trust for support with participant recruitment, and Savanta for hosting the survey. We are grateful to study participants for their honesty and time, and to the Internet for having so many examples of how to do useful things in Stata. © 2023 Brainard et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Uncontrolled Keywords: sexually transmitted infections,sexual minority,mpox,modelling,sdg 3 - good health and well-being ,/dk/atira/pure/sustainabledevelopmentgoals/good_health_and_well_being
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Norwich Medical School
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Research Groups > Epidemiology and Public Health
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Research Groups > Public Health and Health Services Research (former - to 2023)
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 11 Sep 2023 10:30
Last Modified: 28 Sep 2023 08:30
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0291001


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