When Do Sexual Partnerships Need to Be Accounted for in Transmission Models of Human Papillomavirus?
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is often transmitted through sexual partnerships. However, many previous HPV transmission models ignore the existence of partnerships by implicitly assuming that each new sexual contact is made with a different person. Here, we develop a simplified pair model-based on the example of HPV-that explicitly includes sexual partnership formation and dissolution. We show that not including partnerships can potentially result in biased projections of HPV prevalence. However, if transmission rates are calibrated to match empirical pre-vaccine HPV prevalence, the projected prevalence under a vaccination program does not vary significantly, regardless of whether partnerships are included.