The Massachusetts Department of Public Health Office of HIV/AIDS proposes to conduct HIV Behavioral Surveillance among four groups at increased risk for acquiring HIV infection: men who have with men (MSM), injecting drug users (IDU) individuals at heterosexual risk (HET) and Transgender individuals living in the three county Boston Division of the Metropolitan Statistical Area. The results will be used to plan statewide HIV/AIDS prevention programs and to 1) increase the number of persons at risk who know their HIV status, 2) decrease the number of new HIV infections and 3) improve the health and quality of life of HIV-infected and high-risk uninfected persons.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) Office of HIV/AIDS (OHA) proposes to conduct HIV Behavioral Surveillance as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National HIV Behavioral Surveillance system (NHBS). NHBS is an ongoing program to collect data on risk behaviors related to HIV among three groups at increased risk: men who have sex with men (MSM), injecting drug users (IDU) and individuals at heterosexual risk (HET). Each of the three populations is surveyed on an annual rotating cycle in the Boston Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). Survey respondents are also invited to take a voluntary HIV test. Behavioral surveillance supplements information gained from local HIV and AIDS case surveillance. Many years may pass between the time a person is infected with HIV and the time they are diagnosed with HIV, which makes it important to monitor changes in the epidemic and to respond swiftly with appropriate prevention activities. Respondent survey and HIV test results are used to help achieve three important public health goals: 1) increase the number of persons at risk who know their HIV status, 2) decrease the number of new HIV infections and 3) improve the health and quality of life of HIV infected and high-risk uninfected persons. The methods used to conduct behavioral surveillance are developed by the CDC and implemented using a standard protocol. During the MSM cycle, approximately 500 respondents are sampled using Venue Based, Time Space Sampling (VBS) in venues such as bars and dance clubs frequented by MSM. During the IDU and HET cycles, approximately 500 and 450 respondents respectively are sampled using Respondent Driven Sampling (RDS), a chain- referral strategy similar to snowball sampling but one that avoids selection bias. For the Transgender cycle which also uses RDS, 200 people are sampled. A standard questionnaire is administered in person in venues or in community-based organizations convenient for the population being sampled. Interviewers enter data into handheld computers programmed using CDC-provided software that facilitates skip patterns, validity checks, and determination of eligibility. Aggregate study data inform state policy and are disseminated by MDPH OHA to key collaborators including the Massachusetts Prevention Planning Group, the Consumer Advisory Board and local HIV/AIDS service organizations to improve education, prevention, and treatment programs.