The aim of this theme is to highlight and explore how the risk of exposure to infectious pathogens and the outcome of subsequent disease is inextricably linked to the social environment and therefore driven by health inequities.
There is little debate that a dynamic association between social environment and disease risk unequivocally exists, “such that groups more advantaged with respect to knowledge, money, power, prestige and social connections will, whatever the current profile of risk factors and diseases, come out ahead with respect to health” . This disparity is especially highlighted in the case of infectious diseases such as COVID-19, HIV and TB to name a few. Yet understanding and addressing the pathogenic role of social inequalities in the context of infectious diseases has not received the attention warranted. This fact is exemplified by the lack of systematic data collection on health inequities as a key component of infectious disease surveillance. The focus of this theme will be to improve our understanding of exactly how health inequalities lead to worse health outcomes from infectious diseases in order to inform context-specific mitigation strategies and reduce health inequity.  Link BG, Phelan JC. Understanding sociodemographic differences in health—the role of fundamental social causes. Am J Public Health. 1996. April;86(4):471–3