Respondent driven sampling for HIV biological and behavioral surveillance in Latin America and the Caribbean

AIDS Behav. 2013 Sep;17(7):2313-40. doi: 10.1007/s10461-013-0466-4.


Since 2005, respondent driven sampling (RDS) has been widely used for HIV biological and behavioral surveillance surveys (BBSS) in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). In this manuscript, we provide a focused review of RDS among hard-to-reach high-risk populations in LAC and describe their principal operational, design, and analytical considerations. We reviewed published and unpublished reports, protocols, and manuscripts for RDS studies conducted in LAC between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2011. We abstracted key operational information and generated summary statistics across all studies. Between 2005 and 2011, 87 RDS studies were conducted in 15 countries in LAC (68 % in South America, 18 % in Mexico and Central America, and 14 % in the Caribbean). The target populations were primarily men who have sex with men (43 %), sex workers (29 %), and drug users (26 %). Study considerations included establishing clear eligibility criteria, measuring social network sizes, collecting specimens for biological testing, among others. Most of the reviewed studies are the first in their respective countries to collect data on hard-to-reach populations and the first attempt to use a probability-based sampling method. These RDS studies allowed researchers and public health practitioners in LAC to access hard-to-reach HIV high-risk populations and collect valuable data on the prevalence of HIV and other infections, as well as related risk behaviors.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Central America
  • Data Collection
  • Developing Countries*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • HIV Infections / psychology
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • Homosexuality, Male / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mexico
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Sampling Studies
  • Sex Work / statistics & numerical data
  • South America
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / complications
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / epidemiology
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / psychology
  • Unsafe Sex / psychology
  • Unsafe Sex / statistics & numerical data*
  • West Indies
  • Young Adult