Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

To discuss the role of mathematical models of sexual transmission of HIV: the methods used and their impact.We use mathematical modelling of 'universal test and treat' as a case study to illustrate wider issues relevant to all modelling of sexual HIV transmission.Mathematical models are used extensively in HIV epidemiology to deduce the logical conclusions arising from one or more sets of assumptions. Simple models lead to broad qualitative understanding, whereas complex models can encode more realistic assumptions and, thus, be used for predictive or operational purposes. An overreliance on model analysis in which assumptions are untested and input parameters cannot be estimated should be avoided. Simple models providing bold assertions have provided compelling arguments in recent public health policy, but may not adequately reflect the uncertainty inherent in the analysis.

Original publication




Journal article


Current opinion in HIV and AIDS

Publication Date





269 - 276


Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, MRC Centre for Outbreak Analysis and Modelling, Imperial College London, London, UK.


Humans, HIV Infections, Epidemiologic Methods, Models, Theoretical, Disease Transmission, Infectious