Behavioral surveillance is defined as an "ongoing, systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation of behavior data for preventing or controlling disease or injury".1 According to CDCís HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan objectives, behavioral surveillance is designed to reduce the proportion of persons at high risk for acquiring HIV and to increase the proportion of high-risk persons who routinely access voluntary counseling and testing or other HIV prevention services.
This behavioral surveillance system will provide relevant data on risk behaviors of men who have sex with men (MSM), the behavioral risk group that constitutes 70% of all reported AIDS cases in Los Angeles County.2 Behavioral surveillance data can be used to evaluate whether prevention efforts are reaching MSM and meeting local and national HIV prevention goals.3 Los Angeles County joins 24 other states and metropolitan areas in this national behavioral surveillance system.
The purpose of LMS is to collect cross-sectional HIV risk data, once every two or three years, from men 18 years and older who attend bars, cafes, parks, street locations, and other public venues throughout Los Angeles County. The study objectives are to estimate the prevalence of and trends in sexual and drug-use risk behaviors known to be associated with HIV infection on an ongoing basis. The survey will also: estimate demographic, social, and behavioral correlates of HIV infection; estimate the prevalence of, and trends in, HIV testing behaviors and HIV prevention services utilization; and characterize prevention service gaps and missed opportunities for HIV prevention.
During the first year of the cross-sectional behavioral surveillance system, in 2004, we will sample and enroll 1,000 MSM for the behavioral questionnaire from randomly selected sites throughout Los Angeles County. Of these, we plan to recruit a minimum of 500 participants for HIV testing, in order to estimate the prevalence and incidence of HIV infection. Participants will be interviewed at a single data collection session by certified pre- and post- test HIV counselors using the standardized, national risk behavior questionnaire. The interview will take 25 to 45 minutes. In addition, an anonymous HIV test will be offered to all behavioral survey participants. Those consenting to HIV testing will have the option of taking a rapid HIV test (via finger prick) or having a blood specimen drawn for standard HIV testing. Participants who consent to an HIV test may also volunteer to have their blood specimen tested using Serologic Testing Algorithm for Recent HIV Seroconversion (STARHS), which can identify recent HIV infection (i.e., within the past 12 months).
Denise Fearman Johnson, Study Epidemiologist, 213-351-8545
Trista Bingham, Principal Investigator, 213-351-8175
- Tacker S, Berkelman R. Public health surveillance in the United States. Epidemiologic Reviews 1988; 10:164-190.
- Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. HIV Epidemiology Program Advanced HIV Disease (AIDS) Quarterly Surveillance Summary. April 15, 2003.
- Mills S, Saidel T, Bennett A, et al. HIV risk behavioral surveillance: a methodology for monitoring behavioral trends. AIDS 1998;12 (suppl 2):S37-S46