Sensitivity of joint contagiousness and susceptibility-based dynamic optimal control strategies for HIV prevention

Ingo Bulla, Ian H. Spickanll, Dmitry Gromov, Ethan Obie Romero-Severson

Research output


Predicting the population-level effects of an infectious disease intervention that incorporate multiple modes of intervention is complicated by the joint non-linear dynamics of both infection transmission and the intervention itself. In this paper, we consider the sensitivity of Dynamic Optimal Control Profiles (DOCPs) for the optimal joint investment in both a contagiousness and susceptibility-based control of HIV to bio-behavioral, economic, and programmatic assumptions. The DOCP is calculated using recently developed numerical algorithms that allow controls to be represented by a set of piecewise constant functions that maintain a constant yearly budget. Our transmission model assumes multiple stages of HIV infection corresponding to acute and chronic infection and both within- and between-individual behavioral heterogeneity. We parameterize a baseline scenario from a longitudinal study of sexual behavior in MSM and consider sensitivity of the DOCPs to deviations from that baseline scenario. In the baseline scenario, the primary determinant of the dominant control were programmatic factors, regardless of budget. In sensitivity analyses, the qualitative aspects of the optimal control policy were often robust to significant deviation in assumptions regarding transmission dynamics. In addition, we found several conditions in which long-term joint investment in both interventions was optimal. Our results suggest that modeling in the service of decision support for intervention design can improve population-level effects of a limited set of economic resources. We found that economic and programmatic factors were as important as the inherent transmission dynamics in determining population-level intervention effects. Given our finding that the DOCPs were robust to alternative biological and behavioral assumptions it may be possible to identify DOCPs even when the data are not sufficient to identify a transmission model.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0204741
Pages (from-to)e0204741
Number of pages19
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018

Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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