A Bayesian approach to estimate changes in condom use from limited human immunodeficiency virus prevalence data

J Dureau, K Kalogeropoulos, P Vickerman, M Pickles, M-C Boily

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Evaluation of large-scale intervention programmes against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is becoming increasingly important, but impact estimates frequently hinge on knowledge of changes in behaviour such as the frequency of condom use over time, or other self-reported behaviour changes, for which we generally have limited or potentially biased data. We employ a Bayesian inference methodology that incorporates an HIV transmission dynamics model to estimate condom use time trends from HIV prevalence data. Estimation is implemented via particle Markov chain Monte Carlo methods, applied for the first time in this context. The preliminary choice of the formulation for the time varying parameter reflecting the proportion of condom use is critical in the context studied, because of the very limited amount of condom use and HIV data available. We consider various novel formulations to explore the trajectory of condom use over time, based on diffusion-driven trajectories and smooth sigmoid curves. Numerical simulations indicate that informative results can be obtained regarding the amplitude of the increase in condom use during an intervention, with good levels of sensitivity and specificity performance in effectively detecting changes. The application of this method to a real life problem demonstrates how it can help in evaluating HIV interventions based on a small number of prevalence estimates, and it opens the way to similar applications in different contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-257
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series C
Issue number2
Early online date10 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


  • Bayesian inference
  • Condom use
  • Epidemic modelling
  • Human immunodeficiency virus infections
  • Particle Markov chain Monte Carlo methods
  • Time varying parameter


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