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National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System


The primary purpose of the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System (NHBS) is to conduct behavioral surveillance among a representative group of people at high risk for HIV infection in the U.S. in order to assess prevalence and trends in (1) risk behaviors for HIV infection; (2) HIV testing behaviors; and (3) exposure to, use of, and impact of HIV prevention services. The survey focuses on the three populations at highest risk: men who have sex with men, injecting drug users, and high-risk heterosexuals. The project collects information from these three populations in rotating 12-month cycles.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
Data Years Available: 
The survey is conducted annually. Each annual survey focuses on one of three risk groups.
Mode of Collection: 
Personal interview.
Selected Content: 
Core questions include demographics, sexual behavior, injection and non-injection drug use, HIV testing, and use of prevention services. Each local site adds specific questions related to access and use of local HIV services.
Population Covered: 
Persons at high risk of HIV infection in 25 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs).

Since HIV is primarily an epidemic that affects urban areas, NHBS sites comprise the state and local health departments representing 25 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) with high AIDS prevalence. NHBS conducts rotating 12-month cycles of surveillance among the three populations at highest risk for HIV in these selected MSAs. In order to follow trends over time, these same populations will be surveyed repeatedly in the same MSAs. Because of differences among the three high-risk populations, different sampling methods are used to obtain a representative sample. During each cycle of the survey, 500 people are recruited and interviewed from the appropriate high-risk population in each MSA.

Response Rates and Sample Size: 
Interpretation Issues: 

Gallagher KM et al.: Behavioral Surveillance Among People at Risk for HIV Infection in the U.S.: The National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System. Public Health Reports. 2007; 1223(Suppl 1): 32-38.