How central are clients in sexual networks created by commercial sex?
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Scientific Reports 4 2014 : (2014) // Article ID 7540
Sex workers are traditionally considered important vectors of transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STI). The role of clients is commonly overlooked, partially due to the lack of evidence on clients' position in the sexual network created by commercial sex. Contrasting the diffusion importance of sex workers and their clients in the map of their sexual encounters in two Web-mediated communities, we find that from diffusion perspective, clients are as important as sex workers. Their diffusion importance is closely linked to the geography of the sexual encounters: as a result of different movement patterns, travelling clients shorten network distances between distant network neighborhoods and thus facilitate contagion among them more than sex workers, and find themselves more often in the core of the network by which they could contribute to the persistence of STIs in the community. These findings position clients into the set of the key actors and highlight the role of human mobility in the transmission of STIs in commercial sexual networks.