Social Spatial Networks for Public Health


Exploring both spatial and social components of sexual and peer networks could facilitate a better understanding of sexually transmitted infection risk, as well as help identify areas for interventions. This study aims to examine how a sexual and peer-affiliate network is impacted or shaped by interconnected social relationships and spatial patterns. We used data collected from a sample of 618 young black men who have sex with men (YBMSM) and transgender women in Chicago (2013-2014) that includes partner and confidant links, geolocations, HIV status, and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) awareness. We spatialize different types of social networks and examine joint social-spatial effects to both identify and differentiate social-spatial behavioral patterns. We compute and visualize a Spatial-Social Network in aggregate to examine social flows across different types of networks in Chicago neighborhoods. While spatial patterns of origins are similar, destinations are different across confidant and sexual networks, reflecting a different cumulative decision-making process for each type of social relationship. Decomposing these structures is further essential to identifying within-group variation and risk: those who travel further may seek resources that are not available at home neighborhoods and/or may have a lack of locally supportive sexual-social networks.

Funding: Social Network Dynamics, HIV, and Risk Reduction Amount Younger Black MSM Role, NIH

PI: John Schneider.

My role: Spatial Analyst

Collaborators: Yen-Tyng Chen, John Schneider

  • University of Chicago, Center for Spatial Data Science
  • University of Chicago Medicine, Department of Infectious Disease