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Sociological methodology  2011;41(1):355-366.
PMCID: PMC3250988  PMID: 22228916
2.  Assessing the Assumptions of Respondent-Driven Sampling in the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System among Injecting Drug Users 
The Open AIDS Journal  2012;6:77-82.
Several assumptions determine whether respondent-driven sampling (RDS) is an appropriate sampling method to use with a particular group, including the population being recruited must know one another as members of the group (i.e., injection drug users [IDUs] must know each other as IDUs) and be networked and that the sample size is small relative to the overall size of the group. To assess these three assumptions, we analyzed city-specific data collected using RDS through the US National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System among IDUs in 23 cities. Overall, 5% of non-seed participants reported that their recruiter was “a stranger.” 20 cities with multiple field sites had ≥1 cross-recruitment, a proxy for linked networks. Sample sizes were small in relation to the IDU population size (median = 2.3%; range: 0.6%- 8.0%). Researchers must evaluate whether these three assumptions were met to justify the basis for using RDS to sample specific populations.
PMCID: PMC3462332  PMID: 23049656
HIV; respondent-driven sampling; injection drug use; behavioral surveillance.
3.  Parsing Social Network Survey Data from Hidden Populations Using Stochastic Context-Free Grammars 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(9):e6777.
Human populations are structured by social networks, in which individuals tend to form relationships based on shared attributes. Certain attributes that are ambiguous, stigmatized or illegal can create a ÔhiddenÕ population, so-called because its members are difficult to identify. Many hidden populations are also at an elevated risk of exposure to infectious diseases. Consequently, public health agencies are presently adopting modern survey techniques that traverse social networks in hidden populations by soliciting individuals to recruit their peers, e.g., respondent-driven sampling (RDS). The concomitant accumulation of network-based epidemiological data, however, is rapidly outpacing the development of computational methods for analysis. Moreover, current analytical models rely on unrealistic assumptions, e.g., that the traversal of social networks can be modeled by a Markov chain rather than a branching process.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Here, we develop a new methodology based on stochastic context-free grammars (SCFGs), which are well-suited to modeling tree-like structure of the RDS recruitment process. We apply this methodology to an RDS case study of injection drug users (IDUs) in Tijuana, México, a hidden population at high risk of blood-borne and sexually-transmitted infections (i.e., HIV, hepatitis C virus, syphilis). Survey data were encoded as text strings that were parsed using our custom implementation of the inside-outside algorithm in a publicly-available software package (HyPhy), which uses either expectation maximization or direct optimization methods and permits constraints on model parameters for hypothesis testing. We identified significant latent variability in the recruitment process that violates assumptions of Markov chain-based methods for RDS analysis: firstly, IDUs tended to emulate the recruitment behavior of their own recruiter; and secondly, the recruitment of like peers (homophily) was dependent on the number of recruits.
SCFGs provide a rich probabilistic language that can articulate complex latent structure in survey data derived from the traversal of social networks. Such structure that has no representation in Markov chain-based models can interfere with the estimation of the composition of hidden populations if left unaccounted for, raising critical implications for the prevention and control of infectious disease epidemics.
PMCID: PMC2734164  PMID: 19738904
4.  Simultaneous Recruitment of Drug Users and Men Who Have Sex with Men in the United States and Russia Using Respondent-Driven Sampling: Sampling Methods and Implications 
The Sexual Acquisition and Transmission of HIV Cooperative Agreement Program (SATHCAP) examined the role of drug use in the sexual transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) from traditional high-risk groups, such as men who have sex with men (MSM) and drug users (DU), to lower risk groups in three US cities and in St. Petersburg, Russia. SATHCAP employed respondent-driven sampling (RDS) and a dual high-risk group sampling approach that relied on peer recruitment for a combined, overlapping sample of MSM and DU. The goal of the sampling approach was to recruit an RDS sample of MSM, DU, and individuals who were both MSM and DU (MSM/DU), as well as a sample of sex partners of MSM, DU, and MSM/DU and sex partners of sex partners. The approach efficiently yielded a sample of 8,355 participants, including sex partners, across all four sites. At the US sites—Los Angeles, Chicago, and Raleigh–Durham—the sample consisted of older (mean age = 41 years), primarily black MSM and DU (both injecting and non-injecting); in St. Petersburg, the sample consisted of primarily younger (mean age = 28 years) MSM and DU (injecting). The US sites recruited a large proportion of men who have sex with men and with women, an important group with high potential for establishing a generalized HIV epidemic involving women. The advantage of using the dual high-risk group approach and RDS was, for the most part, the large, efficiently recruited samples of MSM, DU, and MSM/DU. The disadvantages were a recruitment bias by race/ethnicity and income status (at the US sites) and under-enrollment of MSM samples because of short recruitment chains (at the Russian site).
PMCID: PMC2705484  PMID: 19472058
Respondent-driven sampling; HIV; MSM; MSMW; DU; IDU; SATHCAP
6.  High-Risk Sexual and Drug Using Behaviors Among Male Injection Drug Users Who Have Sex With Men in 2 Mexico-US Border Cities 
Sexually transmitted diseases  2008;35(3):243-249.
The population of Latino men who have sex with men (MSM) and who are also injection drug users (IDUs) is understudied. We explored risk behaviors of MSM/IDUs compared with other male IDUs in 2 Mexican border cities.
Study Design
In 2005, IDUs who had injected within the previous 30 days were recruited using respondent-driven sampling (RDS) in Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez. They underwent antibody testing for HIV, HCV, and syphilis and interviewer-administered surveys. Men were categorized as MSM if they reported ≥1 lifetime male partners. Logistic regression was used to compare MSM/IDUs with non-MSM/IDUs.
A third (31%) of 377 male IDUs were categorized as MSM (47% in Tijuana and 13% in Ciudad Juárez, P <0.01). Combined RDS-adjusted prevalence of HIV and Hepatitis C was 3% (95% CI: 1, 5) and 96%, (95% CI: 94, 99) respectively, while 17% (95% CI: 2, 36) of MSM and 8% (95% CI: 3, 12) of non-MSM tested positive for syphilis antibody. In multivariate logistic regression adjusted for site, MSM/IDUs were more likely than non-MSM/IDUs to have ever used inhalants (OR: 3.4; 95% CI: 1.8, 6.2) or oral tranquilizers (OR: 2.4; 95% CI: 1.3, 4.6), received treatment for a drug problem (OR:1.9; 95% CI: 1.1, 3.2) shared needles in the last six months (OR: 2.1; 95% CI: 1.0, 4.2) and also had higher numbers of lifetime female partners (log-transformed continuous variable, OR: 1.6; 95% CI: 1.2, 2.1).
In these Mexican cities, the proportion of MSM among male IDUs was high. Compared with other male IDUs, MSM/IDUs were more likely to engage in behaviors placing them at risk of acquiring HIV/STIs. Culturally appropriate interventions targeting Latino MSM/IDUs are warranted.
PMCID: PMC2391275  PMID: 18046263
7.  Effectiveness of Respondent-Driven Sampling for Recruiting Drug Users in New York City: Findings from a Pilot Study 
A number of sampling methods are available to recruit drug users and collect HIV risk behavior data. Respondent-driven sampling (RDS) is a modified form of chain-referral sampling with a mathematical system for weighting the sample to compensate for its not having been drawn randomly. It is predicated on the recognition that peers are better able than outreach workers and researchers to locate and recruit other members of a “hidden” population. RDS provides a means of evaluating the reliability of the data obtained and also allows inferences about the characteristics of the population from which the sample is drawn. In this paper we present findings from a pilot study conducted to assess the effectiveness of RDS to recruit a large and diversified group of drug users in New York City. Beginning with eight seeds (i.e., initial recruits) we recruited 618 drug users (injecting and non-injecting) in 13 weeks. The data document both cross-gender and cross-race and -ethnic recruitment as well as recruitment across drug-use status. Sample characteristics are similar to the characteristics of the drug users recruited in other studies conducted in New York City. The findings indicate that RDS is an effective sampling method for recruiting diversified drug users to participate in HIV-related behavioral surveys.
PMCID: PMC2527186  PMID: 16739048
Human immunodeficiency virus; Recruitment of drug users; Respondent-driven sampling; Sampling hidden populations

Results 1-9 (9)