National HIV Behavioral Surveillance

NHBS, National HIV Behavioral Surveillance, is a multisite research project funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that takes place in 21 metropolitan areas with the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS cases in the United States. NO/AIDS NHBS staff has been coordinating and implementing surveillance research in the New Orleans metro area (Orleans, Jefferson, St. Tammany, St. Charles, Plaquemines, St. James, and St. John the Baptist parishes) since 2007.

The purpose of NHBS is to identify and monitor behaviors that place individuals at greater risk for contracting HIV/AIDS. The project occurs in multiple cycles with each year targeting one of three high-risk populations, including: a) men who have sex with men (NHBS-MSM); b) intravenous drug users (NHBS-IDU); and c) heterosexuals at risk for contracting HIV (NHBS-HET).  The data collected assists both governmental and nongovernmental agencies in designing and prioritizing prevention services and in allocation of prevention resources. The findings of NHBS aid in the development of new strategies to reduce HIV throughout the country.

Each research cycle encompasses a 4-6 month period of intensive formative and ethnographic research about the target population, which involves secondary data analysis, participant observation, key informant interviews, and focus group discussions. Following this period, NHBS staff conducts 4-5 months of primary data collection, which involves administering 45 minute anonymous surveys and HIV tests to 500+ randomly selected persons in the target population.

Interviews consist of: 1) a core questionnaire designed by the CDC that addresses the following topics: demographics, sexual history, alcohol and drug use history, HIV testing history, incarceration history, condom use, and experiences of discrimination; 2) a local questionnaire developed by NO/AIDS NHBS staff that address issues of local concern in the New Orleans metropolitan area. Local questionnaires designed by NHBS staff have covered a wide array of topics, including: effects of social capital on individual risk, rates of partner concurrency, reasons for initiation into injection drug use, pregnancy and drug use experiences, Hurricane Katrina and its effect on sexual risk, relationship dynamics and their effects on condom use, and group identity and sexual role identity as they relate to risky behavior.

From 2007 to 2011, NO/AIDS NHBS staff has successfully interviewed and tested over 2500 individuals. Currently, NHBS staff is beginning primary data collection for the third round of NHBS-MSM.


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