Using Agent-Based Modeling to Understand the Impact of HIV/AIDS in the Context of Socio-Economic Stressors

By: Shah Jamal Alam, Ruth Meyer and Emma Norling
Date: 22nd November 2006 (updated)
CPM Report No.: CPM-06-167


In this paper, we present an agent-based simulation model of the social impacts of HIV/AIDS in villages in the Sekhukhune district of the Limpopo province in South Africa. HIV/AIDS is a major concern in South Africa, not just in terms of disease spread but also in term of its impact on society and economic development. The impact of the disease cannot however be considered in isolation from other stresses, such as food insecurity, high climate variability, market fluctuations and variations in support from government and non-government sources. The model described in this paper focuses on decisions made at the individual and household level, based upon evidence from detailed case studies, and the different types of networks between these players that influence their decision making. Key to the model is that these networks are dynamic and coevolving, something that has rarely been considered in social network analysis. The results presented here demonstrate how this type of simulation can aid better understanding of this complex interplay of issues. In turn, we hope that this will prove to be a powerful tool for policy development.

This work is being done under the EU FP6 CAVES Project.

Accessible as: