Human sexual networks exhibit a heterogeneous structure where few individuals have many partners and many individuals have few partners. Network theory predicts that the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STI) on such networks should exhibit striking properties (e.g. rapid spread). However, these properties cannot be found in epidemiological data. Current network models typically assume a constant STI transmission risk per partnership, which is unrealistic because it implies that sexual activity is proportional to the number of partners and that individuals have the same activity with each partner.