Customizing a Tool to Collect Complex Network Data among HIV-positive Youth in South Africa (2017-2018)

HIV-positive youth in South Africa repeatedly demonstrate lower levels of retention in HIV care and adherence to antiretroviral therapy compared to older adults. This project team addressed this issue by studying the composition and structure of youth social networks in the region and customizing a data collection tool to collect and analyze data about these networks in the South African context.

In order to inform the development of the data capture tool, the team examined different types of social networks (e.g., social support networks, disclosure networks, sexual networks) and discussed existing literature on adolescent/youth health, gender and culture in South Africa, the influence of social networks on health behaviors and stigma and barriers of adherence to antiretroviral therapy among youth.

With guidance from the Duke University Network Analysis Center, the team customized an existing open-source network data capture tool (NetworkCanvas), and pre-piloted an English version of the instrument with youth in Durham. The team then piloted the tool with youth in Cape Town and analyzed the network data collected to describe the structure and composition of youth social networks.

Postdoc Marta Mulawa presented the team’s research at the 13th International Conference on HIV Treatment and Prevention Adherence, and two undergraduates shared the customized data capture tool and research findings at the Duke Computer Science Undergraduate Project Showcase.


Fall 2017 – Summer 2018

Team Outcomes

Marta Mulawa. Developing an mHealth Intervention that Leverages Social Networks to Improve ART Adherence among HIV-Infected Adolescents in South Africa ($852,670 grant awarded from National Institute of Mental Health, 2019)

Duke Social Network Data Collection Tool (customized, open-source data collection tool)

Creating an Application to Administer Custom Social Network Surveys (poster by Dylan Peters, Allison Geary), Duke Computer Science Undergraduate Project Showcase, Durham, NC, April 2018

ART Adherence and Social Network Structure and Function among HIV-Infected Women in Cape Town, South Africa (poster by Marta Mulawa, Shannon Elliott, Allison Geary, Alexander Volfovsky, James Moody, John Joska, Kathleen Sikkema), Bass Connections Showcase, Durham, NC, April 18, 2018; Judges’ Selection Runner-up; also presented at the 13th International Conference on HIV Treatment and Prevention Adherence, Miami, FL, June 8, 2018

This Team in the News

Marta Mulawa Presents Bass Connections Research at Adherence 2018 Conference

Bass Connections Showcase Presents Research Highlights from Durham to Malaysia

Judges’ Selection for Best Poster Goes to Team Exploring Health Needs of Refugees in Durham


Marta Mulawa and team members at a conference

Team Leaders

  • Marta Mulawa, Duke Global Health Institute|School of Nursing

/graduate Team Members

  • Brian Aronson, Sociology-AM
  • Shannon Elliott, Global Health - MSc

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Allison Geary, Computer Science (AB), Asian & Mid East Studies (AB2)
  • Dylan Peters, Electrical & Computer Egr(BSE), Computer Science (BSE2)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Robert Duvall, Arts & Sciences-Computer Science
  • James Moody, Arts & Sciences-Sociology
  • Kathleen Sikkema, Duke Global Health Institute|Arts & Sciences-Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Alexander Volfovsky, Arts & Sciences-Statistical Science

/zcommunity Team Members

  • John Joska, University of Cape Town
  • Basant Singh