Capturing Rural Injection Risk Network Structures from Continuous-time Interaction Data

Led by Dr. Jeffery Smith University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Study Overview:

The RISC project aims to understand the unique networks and structural risk factors associated with rural drug use in order to understand and lessen the potential for epidemics, even if current infection rates are low.

Specific Aims:

(Aim 1): Use traditional survey data and unique CTI data to measure: 1) the demographic, network, and behavioral profile of rural drug users and 2) the spatial, temporal, and contextual factors that affect the risk of HIV and HCV transmission among rural drug users.

(Aim 2): Develop an epidemiological framework that incorporates relationship timing, context, and geography into a simulation of disease spread.

(Aim 3): Use the epidemiological simulation to characterize: i) high risk groups for HIV/HCV infection (such as those engaging in high risk behaviors or those in vulnerable network positions), ii) the risk of an epidemic under different conditions (e.g., increasing drug use), and iii) the potential efficacy of different interventions (e.g., the removal/introduction of a needle-exchange program).

Study Sample Population:

N=600 (the entire Rural Health Cohort Study Sample).

Unique Study Procedures:


Long-Term Goals:

To establish an empirically-validated, epidemiological model with clear public policy applications for combating harms associated with illicit drug use. To examine the social network dynamics and behavioral contexts that contribute to HIV and HCV co-infection risk in the rural areas.

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Jeffery Smith

Dr. Jeffery SmithPROject Director

Dr. Smith received his Ph.D. in Sociology from Duke University. His work falls at the intersection of network analysis, traditional statistical methods and social stratification. He has done methodological work on network sampling and missing data, as well as more substantive work on network processes like homophily and status.

Full Jeffery Smith bio

Project Leaders

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Bilal Khan

Bilal Khan Mentor

Dr. Bilal Khan is the Happold Professor of Sociology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and chief architect of the Open Dynamic Interaction Network (ODIN) software platform development at the LNC. His work combines a background in network science and expertise in computational modeling, analysis, and simulation of dynamic networks. Dr. Khan’s primary role at the LNC will be to oversee and facilitate the implementation of the ODIN platform for the Rural Health Cohort, and the use of ODIN in other LNC cohort recruitment and retention projects.

Full Bilal Khan bio

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Dan Hoyt

Dan HoytMentor

Dr. Dan Hoyt is the Director of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Research Consortium as well as occupying the position of Research Integrity Officer and Institutional Official for Human Subjects Research for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Full Dan Hoyt bio