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This article is part of the supplement: The OptAIDS project: towards global halting of HIV/AIDS

Open Access Open Badges Research

A sex-role-preference model for HIV transmission among men who have sex with men in China

Jie Lou1, Jianhong Wu2, Li Chen1, Yuhua Ruan3 and Yiming Shao3*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Mathematics, Shanghai University, 99 Shangda Road Shanghai, 200444, PR China

2 MITACS Centre for Disease Modeling, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M3J 1P3

3 Department of Research on Virology and Immunology, National Center for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention, 27 Nanwei Road, Beijing, 100050, PR China

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BMC Public Health 2009, 9(Suppl 1):S10  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-S1-S10

Published: 18 November 2009



Men who have sex with men (MSM) are much more likely to be infected with HIV than the general population. China has a sizable population of MSM, including gay, bisexual men, money boys and some rural workers. So reducing HIV infection in this population is an important component of the national HIV/AIDS prevention and control program.


We develop a mathematical model using a sex-role-preference framework to predict HIV infection in the MSM population and to evaluate different intervention strategies.


An analytic formula for the basic reproduction ratio R0 was obtained; this yields R0 = 3.9296 in the current situation, so HIV will spread very fast in the MSM population if no intervention measure is implemented in a timely fashion. The persistence of HIV infection and the existence of disease equilibrium (or equilibria) are also shown. We utilized our model to simulate possible outcomes of antiretroviral therapy and vaccination for the MSM population. We compared the effects of these intervention measures under different assumptions about MSM behaviour. We also found that R0 is a decreasing function of the death rate of HIV-infected individuals, following a power law at least asymptotically.


HIV will spread very fast in the MSM population unless intervention measures are implemented urgently. Antiretroviral therapy can have substantial impact on the reduction of HIV among the MSM population, even if disinhibition is considered. The effect of protected sexual behaviour on controlling the epidemic in the MSM population largely depends on the sex-ratio preference of different sub-populations.