Original Research

Modelling the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic: A review of the substance and role of models in South Africa

Nathan Geffen, Alex Welte
Southern African Journal of HIV Medicine | Vol 19, No 1 | a756 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhivmed.v19i1.756 | © 2018 Nathan Geffen, Alex Welte | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 March 2017 | Published: 21 February 2018

About the author(s)

Nathan Geffen, Department of Computer Science, Centre for Social Science Research, University of Cape Town, South Africa
Alex Welte, South African Centre for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis (SACEMA), University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

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We review key mathematical models of the South African human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic from the early 1990s onwards. In our descriptions, we sometimes differentiate between the concepts of a model world and its mathematical or computational implementation. The model world is the conceptual realm in which we explicitly declare the rules – usually some simplification of ‘real world’ processes as we understand them. Computing details of informative scenarios in these model worlds is a task requiring specialist knowledge, but all other aspects of the modelling process, from describing the model world to identifying the scenarios and interpreting model outputs, should be understandable to anyone with an interest in the epidemic.


epidemiology; models; antiretrovirals


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