Respondent-driven sampling as a recruitment method for men who have sex with men in southern sub-Saharan Africa: a cross-sectional analysis by wave.
ABSTRACT: Respondent-driven sampling (RDS) is a popular method for recruiting men who have sex with men (MSM). Our objective is to describe the ability of RDS to reach MSM for HIV testing in three southern African nations.Data collected via RDS among MSM in Lesotho (N=318), Swaziland (N=310) and Malawi (N=334) were analysed by wave in order to characterise differences in sample characteristics. Seeds were recruited from MSM-affiliated community-based organisations. Men were interviewed during a single study visit and tested for HIV. ?(2) tests for trend were used to examine differences in the proportions across wave category.A maximum of 13-19 recruitment waves were achieved in each study site. The percentage of those who identified as gay/homosexual decreased as waves increased in Lesotho (49% to 27%, p<0.01). In Swaziland and Lesotho, knowledge that anal sex was the riskiest type of sex for HIV transmission decreased across waves (39% to 23%, p<0.05, and 37% to 19%, p<0.05). The percentage of participants who had ever received more than one HIV test decreased across waves in Malawi (31% to 12%, p<0.01). In Lesotho and Malawi, the prevalence of testing positive for HIV decreased across waves (48% to 15%, p<0.01 and 23% to 11%, p<0.05). Among those living with HIV, the proportion of those unaware of their status increased across waves in all study sites although this finding was not statistically significant.RDS that extends deeper into recruitment waves may be a promising method of reaching MSM with varying levels of HIV prevention needs.
Project description:BACKGROUND:In using regularly collected or existing surveillance data to characterize engagement in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) services among marginalized populations, differences in sampling methods may produce different pictures of the target population and may therefore result in different priorities for response. OBJECTIVE:The objective of this study was to use existing data to evaluate the sample distribution of eight studies of female sex workers (FSW) and men who have sex with men (MSM), who were recruited using different sampling approaches in two locations within Sub-Saharan Africa: Manzini, Swaziland and Yaoundé, Cameroon. METHODS:MSM and FSW participants were recruited using either respondent-driven sampling (RDS) or venue-based snowball sampling. Recruitment took place between 2011 and 2016. Participants at each study site were administered a face-to-face survey to assess sociodemographics, along with the prevalence of self-reported HIV status, frequency of HIV testing, stigma, and other HIV-related characteristics. Crude and RDS-adjusted prevalence estimates were calculated. Crude prevalence estimates from the venue-based snowball samples were compared with the overlap of the RDS-adjusted prevalence estimates, between both FSW and MSM in Cameroon and Swaziland. RESULTS:RDS samples tended to be younger (MSM aged 18-21 years in Swaziland: 47.6% [139/310] in RDS vs 24.3% [42/173] in Snowball, in Cameroon: 47.9% [99/306] in RDS vs 20.1% [52/259] in Snowball; FSW aged 18-21 years in Swaziland 42.5% [82/325] in RDS vs 8.0% [20/249] in Snowball; in Cameroon 15.6% [75/576] in RDS vs 8.1% [25/306] in Snowball). They were less educated (MSM: primary school completed or less in Swaziland 42.6% [109/310] in RDS vs 4.0% [7/173] in Snowball, in Cameroon 46.2% [138/306] in RDS vs 14.3% [37/259] in Snowball; FSW: primary school completed or less in Swaziland 86.6% [281/325] in RDS vs 23.9% [59/247] in Snowball, in Cameroon 87.4% [520/576] in RDS vs 77.5% [238/307] in Snowball) than the snowball samples. In addition, RDS samples indicated lower exposure to HIV prevention information, less knowledge about HIV prevention, limited access to HIV prevention tools such as condoms, and less-reported frequency of sexually transmitted infections (STI) and HIV testing as compared with the venue-based samples. Findings pertaining to the level of disclosure of sexual practices and sexual practice-related stigma were mixed. CONCLUSIONS:Samples generated by RDS and venue-based snowball sampling produced significantly different prevalence estimates of several important characteristics. These findings are tempered by limitations to the application of both approaches in practice. Ultimately, these findings provide further context for understanding existing surveillance data and how differences in methods of sampling can influence both the type of individuals captured and whether or not these individuals are representative of the larger target population. These data highlight the need to consider how program coverage estimates of marginalized populations are determined when characterizing the level of unmet need.
Project description:BACKGROUND: HIV-related stigmatisation and discrimination by young children towards their peers have important consequences at the individual level and for our response to the epidemic, yet research on this area is limited. METHODS: We used nationally representative data to examine discrimination of HIV-positive children by grade six students (n?=?39,664) across nine countries in Southern Africa: Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Descriptive statistics are used to compare discrimination by country, gender, geographic location and socioeconomic status. Multivariate logistic regression is employed to assess potential determinants of discrimination. RESULTS: The levels and determinants of discrimination varied significantly between the nine countries. While one in ten students in Botswana, Malawi, South Africa and Swaziland would "avoid or shun" an HIV positive friend, the proportions in Lesotho, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe were twice as high (approximately 20%). A large proportion of students believed that HIV positive children should not be allowed to continue to attend school, particularly in Zambia (33%), Lesotho (37%) and Zimbabwe (42%). The corresponding figures for Malawi and Swaziland were significantly lower at 13% and 12% respectively. Small differences were found by gender. Children from rural areas and poorer schools were much more likely to discriminate than those from urban areas and wealthier schools. Importantly, we identified factors consistently associated with discrimination across the region: students with greater exposure to HIV information, better general HIV knowledge and fewer misconceptions about transmission of HIV via casual contact were less likely to report discrimination. CONCLUSIONS: Our study points toward the need for early interventions (grade six or before) to reduce stigma and discrimination among children, especially in schools situated in rural areas and poorer communities. In particular, interventions should focus on correcting misconceptions that HIV can be transmitted via casual contact.
Project description:INTRODUCTION:Sub-Saharan Africa bears more than two-thirds of the worldwide burden of HIV; however, data among transgender women from the region are sparse. Transgender women across the world face significant vulnerability to HIV. This analysis aimed to assess HIV prevalence as well as psychosocial and behavioral drivers of HIV infection among transgender women compared with cisgender (non-transgender) men who have sex with men (cis-MSM) in 8 sub-Saharan African countries. METHODS AND FINDINGS:Respondent-driven sampling targeted cis-MSM for enrollment. Data collection took place at 14 sites across 8 countries: Burkina Faso (January-August 2013), Côte d'Ivoire (March 2015-February 2016), The Gambia (July-December 2011), Lesotho (February-September 2014), Malawi (July 2011-March 2012), Senegal (February-November 2015), Swaziland (August-December 2011), and Togo (January-June 2013). Surveys gathered information on sexual orientation, gender identity, stigma, mental health, sexual behavior, and HIV testing. Rapid tests for HIV were conducted. Data were merged, and mixed effects logistic regression models were used to estimate relationships between gender identity and HIV infection. Among 4,586 participants assigned male sex at birth, 937 (20%) identified as transgender or female, and 3,649 were cis-MSM. The mean age of study participants was approximately 24 years, with no difference between transgender participants and cis-MSM. Compared to cis-MSM participants, transgender women were more likely to experience family exclusion (odds ratio [OR] 1.75, 95% CI 1.42-2.16, p < 0.001), rape (OR 1.95, 95% CI 1.63-2.36, p < 0.001), and depressive symptoms (OR 1.30, 95% CI 1.12-1.52, p < 0.001). Transgender women were more likely to report condomless receptive anal sex in the prior 12 months (OR 2.44, 95% CI 2.05-2.90, p < 0.001) and to be currently living with HIV (OR 1.81, 95% CI 1.49-2.19, p < 0.001). Overall HIV prevalence was 25% (235/926) in transgender women and 14% (505/3,594) in cis-MSM. When adjusted for age, condomless receptive anal sex, depression, interpersonal stigma, law enforcement stigma, and violence, and the interaction of gender with condomless receptive anal sex, the odds of HIV infection for transgender women were 2.2 times greater than the odds for cis-MSM (95% CI 1.65-2.87, p < 0.001). Limitations of the study included sampling strategies tailored for cis-MSM and merging of datasets with non-identical survey instruments. CONCLUSIONS:In this study in sub-Saharan Africa, we found that HIV burden and stigma differed between transgender women and cis-MSM, indicating a need to address gender diversity within HIV research and programs.
Project description:OBJECTIVE: Lack of representative data about hidden groups, like men who have sex with men (MSM), hinders an evidence-based response to the HIV epidemics. Respondent-driven sampling (RDS) was developed to overcome sampling challenges in studies of populations like MSM for which sampling frames are absent. Internet-based RDS (webRDS) can potentially circumvent limitations of the original RDS method. We aimed to implement and evaluate webRDS among a hidden population. METHODS AND DESIGN: This cross-sectional study took place 18 February to 12 April, 2011 among MSM in Vietnam. Inclusion criteria were men, aged 18 and above, who had ever had sex with another man and were living in Vietnam. Participants were invited by an MSM friend, logged in, and answered a survey. Participants could recruit up to four MSM friends. We evaluated the system by its success in generating sustained recruitment and the degree to which the sample compositions stabilized with increasing sample size. RESULTS: Twenty starting participants generated 676 participants over 24 recruitment waves. Analyses did not show evidence of bias due to ineligible participation. Estimated mean age was 22 years and 82% came from the two large metropolitan areas. 32 out of 63 provinces were represented. The median number of sexual partners during the last six months was two. The sample composition stabilized well for 16 out of 17 variables. CONCLUSION: Results indicate that webRDS could be implemented at a low cost among Internet-using MSM in Vietnam. WebRDS may be a promising method for sampling of Internet-using MSM and other hidden groups.
Project description:BACKGROUND:A major barrier to achieving ambitious targets for global control of HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) is low levels of awareness of infection among key populations such as men who have sex with men (MSM) and people who inject drugs (PWID). We explored the potential of a strategy routinely used for surveillance in these groups, respondent-driven sampling (RDS), to be used as an intervention to identify HIV- and HCV-infected PWID and MSM who are unaware of their status and those who are viremic across 26 Indian cities at various epidemic stages. METHODS AND FINDINGS:Data were collected as part of the baseline assessment of an ongoing cluster-randomized trial. RDS was used to accrue participants at 27 sites (15 PWID sites and 12 MSM sites) selected to reflect varying stages of the HIV epidemic among MSM and PWID in India. A total of 56 seeds recruited a sample of 26,447 persons (approximately 1,000 participants per site) between October 1, 2012, and December 19, 2013. Across MSM sites (n = 11,997), the median age was 25 years and the median number of lifetime male partners was 8. Across PWID sites (n = 14,450), 92.4% were male, the median age was 30 years, and 87.5% reported injection in the prior 6 months. RDS identified 4,051 HIV-infected persons, of whom 2,325 (57.4%) were unaware of their HIV infection and 2,816 (69.5%) were HIV viremic. It also identified 5,777 HCV-infected persons, of whom 5,337 (92.4%) were unaware that they were infected with HCV and 4,728 (81.8%) were viremic. In the overall sample (both MSM and PWID), the prevalence of HIV-infected persons who were unaware of their status increased with sampling depth, from 7.9% in participants recruited in waves 1 through 5 to 12.8% among those recruited in waves 26 and above (p-value for trend < 0.001). The overall detection rate of people unaware of their HIV infection was 0.5 persons per day, and the detection rate of HIV-infected persons with viremia (regardless of their awareness status) was 0.7 per day. The detection rate of HIV viremic individuals was positively associated with underlying HIV prevalence and the prevalence of HIV viremia (linear regression coefficient per 1-percentage-point increase in prevalence: 0.05 and 0.07, respectively). The median detection rate of PWID who were unaware of their HCV infection was 2.5 per day. The cost of identifying 1 unaware HIV-infected individual ranged from US$51 to US$2,072 across PWID sites and from US$189 to US$5,367 across MSM sites. The mean additional cost of identifying 1 unaware HCV-infected PWID was US$13 (site range: US$7-US$140). Limitations of the study include the exclusivity of study sites to India, lack of prior HIV/HCV diagnosis confirmation with clinic records, and lack of cost data from other case-finding approaches commonly used in India. CONCLUSIONS:In this study, RDS was able to rapidly identify at nominal cost a substantial number of unaware and viremic HIV-infected and HCV-infected individuals who were currently not being reached by existing programs and who were at high risk for transmission. Combining RDS (or other network-driven recruitment approaches) with strategies focused on linkage to care, particularly in high-burden settings, may be a viable option for achieving the 90-90-90 targets in key populations in resource-limited settings.
Project description:Respondent-driven-sampling (RDS) has well been recognized as a method for sampling from most hard-to-reach populations like commercial sex workers, drug users and men who have sex with men. However the feasibility of this sampling strategy in terms of recruiting a diverse spectrum of these hidden populations has not been understood well yet in developing countries.In a cross sectional study in Nanjing city of Jiangsu province of China, 430 MSM were recruited including 9 seeds in 14 weeks of study period using RDS. Information regarding socio-demographic characteristics and sexual risk behavior were collected and testing was done for HIV and syphilis. Duration, completion, participant characteristics and the equilibrium of key factors were used for assessing feasibility of RDS. Homophily of key variables, socio-demographic distribution and social network size were used as the indicators of diversity.In the study sample, adjusted HIV and syphilis prevalence were 6.6% and 14.6% respectively. Majority (96.3%) of the participants were recruited by members of their own social network. Although there was a tendency for recruitment within the same self-identified group (homosexuals recruited 60.0% homosexuals), considerable cross-group recruitment (bisexuals recruited 52.3% homosexuals) was also seen. Homophily of the self-identified sexual orientations was 0.111 for homosexuals. Upon completion of the recruitment process, participant characteristics and the equilibrium of key factors indicated that RDS was feasible for sampling MSM in Nanjing. Participants recruited by RDS were found to be diverse after assessing the homophily of key variables in successive waves of recruitment, the proportion of characteristics after reaching equilibrium and the social network size. The observed design effects were nearly the same or even better than the theoretical design effect of 2.RDS was found to be an efficient and feasible sampling method for recruiting a diverse sample of MSM in a reasonable time.
Project description:HIV in Central America is concentrated among certain groups such as men who have sex with men (MSM) and female sex workers (FSWs). We compared social recruitment chains and HIV transmission clusters from 699 MSM and 787 FSWs to better understand factors contributing to ongoing HIV transmission in El Salvador.Phylogenies were reconstructed using pol sequences from 119 HIV-positive individuals recruited by respondent-driven sampling (RDS) and compared with RDS chains in 3 cities in El Salvador. Transmission clusters with a mean pairwise genetic distance ≤ 0.015 and Bayesian posterior probabilities =1 were identified. Factors associated with cluster membership were evaluated among MSM.Sequences from 34 (43%) MSM and 4 (10%) FSW grouped in 14 transmission clusters. Clusters were defined by risk group (12 MSM clusters) and geographic residence (only 1 spanned separate cities). In 4 MSM clusters (all n = 2), individuals were also members of the same RDS chain, but only 2 had members directly linked through recruitment. All large clusters (n ≥ 3) spanned >1 RDS chain. Among MSM, factors independently associated with cluster membership included recent infection by BED assay (P = 0.02), sex with stable male partners (P = 0.02), and sex with ≥ 3 male partners in the past year (P = 0.04).We found few HIV transmissions corresponding directly with the social recruitment. However, we identified clustering in nearly one-half of MSM suggesting that RDS recruitment was indirectly but successfully uncovering transmission networks, particularly among recent infections. Interrogating RDS chains with phylogenetic analyses may help refine methods for identifying transmission clusters.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Men who have sex with men (MSM) are more likely to be living with HIV than other adult men in low- and middle-income countries. MSM experience barriers to accessing HIV services including a lack of available specialized care, and community-level stigma and discrimination. This study aims to examine the uptake of HIV services at non-governmental and community-based organizations (NGOs/CBOs) to identify ways to improve coverage of HIV prevention and treatment among MSM. METHODS:An Integrated Biological and Behavioral Surveillance (IBBS) survey was conducted in Yaoundé and Douala, Cameroon in 2011 using the respondent driven sampling (RDS) method to recruit and interview 239 MSM in Yaoundé and 272 MSM in Douala. RESULTS:MSM in Yaoundé were statistically significantly more likely to have accessed NGO/CBO services or been reached by an outreach worker in the past 12 months if they had any STI symptoms (aOR 2.17 CI 1.02-4.59. p=0.04), or if they had a larger MSM social network (aOR 1.02 CI 1.01-1.04. p<0.01). MSM in Douala were more likely to have accessed NGO/CBO services or been reached by an outreach worker in the past 12 months if they were living with HIV (aOR 3.60 CI 1.35-9.60. p=0.01), or if they reported higher numbers of male sexual partners (aOR 1.17 CI 1.00-1.36. p=0.046). Compared to men in Douala, MSM in Yaoundé were significantly less likely to have accessed NGO/CBO services or been reached by an outreach worker in the past 12 months (aOR 0.22 CI 0 .14-0.34. p=<0.01). CONCLUSIONS:With appropriate funding and resources, community-based organizations that provide care specifically for MSM can improve access to HIV prevention, treatment, and care services. Additionally, using social networks to reach MSM can connect greater numbers of the population to effective HIV interventions, which will improve health outcomes and decrease onward transmission of HIV.
Project description:INTRODUCTION:Men who have sex with men and transgender individuals (MSM/TG) carry a disproportionately high burden of HIV, including in South Africa. However, there are few empirical population-representative estimates of viral suppression and the HIV care cascade including HIV testing among this population, nor of factors associated with these outcomes. METHODS:We conducted a respondent driven sampling (RDS) survey among 301 MSM/TG in Johannesburg in 2017. Participants gave blood samples for HIV testing and viral load. Participants self-completed a survey including sociodemographics, HIV testing history, and engagement in care. We calculated RDS-II weighted estimates of the percentage of HIV-negative MSM/TG reporting HIV testing in the previous 6 months, their testing experience and preferences. Among those HIV-positive, we estimated the percentage status-aware, on ART, and virally suppressed (<50 viral copies/ml plasma). We conducted RDS-weighted robust Poisson regression to obtain weighted prevalence ratios of factors associated with 1) HIV testing among those HIV-negative; and 2) viral suppression among those HIV-positive. RESULTS:There were 118/300 HIV-positive MSM/TG, (37.5%). Of the HIV-negative MSM/TG, 61.5% reported that they had tested for HIV in the previous 6 months, which was associated with selling sex to men (Prevalence Ratio = 1.67, 95% CI 1.36-2.05). There were 76/118 HIV-positive MSM/TG (56.5%) who reported having previously tested positive for HIV and 39/118 (30.0%) who reported current ART. There were 58/118 HIV-positive MSM/TG with viral loads <50 copies/ml plasma (46.9%). Viral suppression was associated with older age (adjusted PR = 1.03, 95% CI 1.00-1.06 for each year), neighbourhood, and having bought sex from men (adjusted PR = 1.53, 95% CI 1.12-2.08). CONCLUSIONS:HIV prevalence was very high. Viral suppression among those HIV-positive was similar to the general male population in South Africa, but remains far short of national and international targets. A majority of HIV-negative MSM/TG had HIV tested in the previous 6 months, though there is room for improvement.
Project description:The Sexual Acquisition and Transmission of HIV Cooperative Agreement Program (SATHCAP) examined the role of drug use in the sexual transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) from traditional high-risk groups, such as men who have sex with men (MSM) and drug users (DU), to lower risk groups in three US cities and in St. Petersburg, Russia. SATHCAP employed respondent-driven sampling (RDS) and a dual high-risk group sampling approach that relied on peer recruitment for a combined, overlapping sample of MSM and DU. The goal of the sampling approach was to recruit an RDS sample of MSM, DU, and individuals who were both MSM and DU (MSM/DU), as well as a sample of sex partners of MSM, DU, and MSM/DU and sex partners of sex partners. The approach efficiently yielded a sample of 8,355 participants, including sex partners, across all four sites. At the US sites-Los Angeles, Chicago, and Raleigh-Durham-the sample consisted of older (mean age = 41 years), primarily black MSM and DU (both injecting and non-injecting); in St. Petersburg, the sample consisted of primarily younger (mean age = 28 years) MSM and DU (injecting). The US sites recruited a large proportion of men who have sex with men and with women, an important group with high potential for establishing a generalized HIV epidemic involving women. The advantage of using the dual high-risk group approach and RDS was, for the most part, the large, efficiently recruited samples of MSM, DU, and MSM/DU. The disadvantages were a recruitment bias by race/ethnicity and income status (at the US sites) and under-enrollment of MSM samples because of short recruitment chains (at the Russian site).