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New Publication in AIDS and Behavior

Theory, Measurement and Hard Times: Some Issues for HIV/AIDS Research
Samuel R. Friedman, Milagros Sandoval, Pedro Mateu-Gelabert, Diana Rossi, Marya Gwadz, Kirk Dombrowski, Pavlo Smyrnov, Tetyana Vasylyeva, Enrique R. Pouget, David Perlman

Economic and political instability and related “big events” are widespread throughout the globe. Although they sometimes lead to epidemic HIV outbreaks, sometimes they do not—and we do not understand why. Current behavioural theories do not adequately address these processes, and thus cannot provide optimal guidance for effective intervention. Based in part on a critique of our prior “pathways” model of big events, we suggest that cultural–historical activity theory (CHAT) may provide a useful framework for HIV research in this area. Using CHAT concepts, we also suggest a number of areas in which new measures should be developed to make such research possible.
Keywords: Big events, Hard times, Cultural–historical activity theory, Theory, HIV Measurement

New Publication on Methamphetamine Using Populations in New York City

Estimating the Size of the Methamphetamine-Using Population in New York City Using Network Sampling Techniques

Kirk Dombrowski, Bilal Khan, Travis Wendel, Katherine McLean, Evan Misshula, and Ric Curtis

As part of a recent study of the dynamics of the retail market for methamphetamine use in New York City, we used network sampling methods to estimate the size of the total networked population. This process involved sampling from respondents’ list of co-use contacts, which in turn became the basis for cap-ture-recapture estimation. Recapture sampling was based on links to other respondents derived from demographic and “telefunken” matching procedures–the latter being an anonymized version of telephone number matching. This paper describes the matching process used to discover the links between the solic-ited contacts and project respondents, the capture-recapture calculation, the estimation of “false matches”, and the development of confidence intervals for the final population estimates. A final population of 12,229 was estimated, with a range of 8,235 – 23,750. The techniques described here have the special vir-tue of deriving an estimate for a hidden population while retaining respondent anonymity and the ano-nymity of network alters, but likely require larger sample size than the 132 persons interviewed to attain acceptable confidence levels for the estimate.

Keywords: Population Estimation; Network Methods; Methamphetamine; Anonymous Sampling

Dombrowski, K. , Khan, B. , Wendel, T. , McLean, K. , Misshula, E. & Curtis, R. (2012). Estimating the Size of the Methamphetamine-Using Population in New York City Using Network Sampling Techniques. Advances in Applied Sociology, 2, 245-252. doi: 10.4236/aasoci.2012.24032.

New Publication: Advances in Anthropology

Assessing Respondent Driven Sampling for Network Studies in Ethnographic Contexts

Kirk Dombrowski, Bilal Khan, Joshua Moses, Emily Channell, and Evan Misshula

Respondent Driven Sampling (RDS) is generally considered a methodology for recruiting “hard-to-reach” populations for social science research. More recently, Wejnert has argued that RDS analysis can be used for general social network analysis as well (where he labels it, RDS-SN). In this article, we assess the value of Wejnert’s RDS-SN for use in more traditional ethnographic contexts. We employed RDS as part of a larger social network research project to recruit n = 330 community residents (over 17 years of age) in Nain, a predominantly (92%) aboriginal community in northern Labrador, Canada, for social network interviews about food sharing, housing, public health, and community traditions. The peer referral chains resulted in a sample that was then analyzed for its representativeness by two means—a comparison with the Statistics Canada 2006 Census of the same community, and with house-by-house demographic sur- veys carried out in the community as part of our research. The results show a close fit with available community statistics and our own survey. As such, we argue that the RDS sampling used in Nain was able to provide a useful and near-representative sample of the community. To demonstrate the usefulness of the results, the referral chains are also analyzed here for patterns in intragroup and intergroup relation- ships that were apparent only in the aggregate.

Keywords: Respondent Driven Sampling; Labrador Inuit; Ethnographic Methods; Network Sampling; Arctic Social Science

New Publication: Journal of Anthropology

Out on the Land: Income, Subsistence Activities, and Food Sharing Networks in Nain, Labrador

Kirk Dombrowski, Emily Channell, Bilal Khan, Joshua Moses, and Evan Misshula

In recent Inuit ethnography, a major concern has been how and to what extent contemporary Inuit participate in and depend on subsistence activities, particularly in the context of increasing wage employment and growing participation in the cash economy. This paper provides an analysis of these activities in the predominately Inuit community of Nain, Labrador. Using social network data and demographic information collected between January and June 2010, we examine the interconnections between subsistence activities—obtaining “country food” through activities such as hunting, fishing, and collecting—with access to the means of obtaining subsistence resources (such as snow mobiles, cabins, and boats), employment status, and income. Our data indicate that individuals with higher employment status and income tend to be more central to the network of subsistence food sharing, but not because they have greater access to hunting tools or equipment (they do not).We conclude that those individuals who play the most central role in the network are those who are financially able to do so, regardless of access to hunting tools/means.

New Publication, World Journal of AIDS

Topological and Historical Considerations for Infectious Disease Transmission among Injecting Drug Users in Bushwick, Brooklyn (USA)

Kirk Dombrowski, Richard Curtis, Samuel Friedman, and Bilal Khan

Recent interest by physicists in social networks and disease transmission factors has prompted debate over the topology of degree distributions in sexual networks. Social network researchers have been critical of “scale-free” Barabasi-Albert approaches, and largely rejected the preferential attachment, “rich-get-richer” assumptions that underlie that model. Instead, research on sexual networks has pointed to the importance of homophily and local sexual norms in dictating degree distributions, and thus disease transmission thresholds. Injecting Drug User (IDU) network topologies may differ from the emerging models of sexual networks, however. Degree distribution analysis of a Brooklyn, NY, IDU network indicates a different topology than the spanning tree configurations discussed for sexual networks, instead featuring comparatively short cycles and high concurrency. Our findings suggest that IDU networks do in some ways conform to a “scale-free” topology, and thus may represent “reservoirs” of potential infection despite seemingly low transmission thresholds.

Keywords: Social Network Analysis; Injecting Drug Users; Scale-Free Networks