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Economies 2014, 2(3), 171-192; doi:10.3390/economies2030171
Article

Social Context and the Spread of HIV: An Evolutionary Game-Theoretic Investigation on the Impacts of Social Stigma on Epidemic Outcomes

1 and 2,*
Received: 14 January 2014; in revised form: 8 July 2014 / Accepted: 12 August 2014 / Published: 25 August 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Game Theory and Political Economy)
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Abstract: We provide a theoretical foundation for analyzing how social stigma and adopted behavioral traits affect the transmission of HIV across a population. We combine an evolutionary game-theoretic model—based on a relationship signaling stage game—with the SIR (susceptible-infected-recovered) model of disease transmission. Our evolutionary model specifies how two types of social stigma—that which accompanies an HIV+ condition and that which follows associating with an HIV+ partner—influence behavioral propensities to honestly report one’s condition (or not) and to unconditionally accept relationships (or not). With respect to reporting an HIV+ condition, we find that condition stigma impedes the fitness of honest reporting, whereas association stigma impedes the relative fitness of concealing an HIV+ condition; and both propensities can coexist in a polymorphic equilibrium. By linking our model to the SIR model, we find that condition stigma unambiguously enhances disease transmission by discouraging both honest reporting and a society’s acceptance of AIDS education, whereas association stigma has an ambiguous impact: on one hand it can impede HIV transmission by discouraging concealing behavior and unconditional relationship acceptance, but it also compromises a society’s acceptance of AIDS education. Our relatively simple evolutionary/SIR model offers a foundation for numerous theoretical extensions—such as applications to social network theory—as well as foundation for many testable empirical hypotheses.
Keywords: evolutionary game theory; HIV transmission; polymorphic equilibrium; SIR model of disease transmission; social stigma evolutionary game theory; HIV transmission; polymorphic equilibrium; SIR model of disease transmission; social stigma
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Ferguson, W.D.; Nguyen, T.K. Social Context and the Spread of HIV: An Evolutionary Game-Theoretic Investigation on the Impacts of Social Stigma on Epidemic Outcomes. Economies 2014, 2, 171-192.

AMA Style

Ferguson WD, Nguyen TK. Social Context and the Spread of HIV: An Evolutionary Game-Theoretic Investigation on the Impacts of Social Stigma on Epidemic Outcomes. Economies. 2014; 2(3):171-192.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Ferguson, William D.; Nguyen, Trang K. 2014. "Social Context and the Spread of HIV: An Evolutionary Game-Theoretic Investigation on the Impacts of Social Stigma on Epidemic Outcomes." Economies 2, no. 3: 171-192.

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