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National HIV Behavioral Surveillance


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"Effective HIV prevention programs rely primarily on changing behavior; therefore, behavioral data are needed to inform these programs." [1]

The Florida Department of Health, HIV/AIDS Section is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to implement the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance (NHBS) System to monitor behaviors that place people at risk for HIV infection.  NHBS is conducted in twenty U.S. metropolitan areas with high AIDS prevalence. NHBS involves a repeated, cross-sectional survey and voluntary HIV testing of populations at high risk for HIV infection: men who have sex with men (MSM), injection drug users (IDU), and heterosexuals at risk for HIV infection (HET).  NHBS activities are implemented in rotating cycles so that data are collected from each risk group approximately once every three years; these study cycles are referred to as NHBS-MSM, NHBS-IDU, and NHBS-HET. The study provides data on 1) trends in sexual and drug-use risk behaviors, 2) HIV prevalence and incidence, 3) HIV testing patterns, and 4) the use and impact of prevention services. The overarching goal of NHBS is to help evaluate and direct local and national prevention efforts. 

The section is collaborating with the CDC and the University of Miami to conduct NHBS in South Florida. The project is known locally as ACXION (Assessing Characteristics of population X In ON-going surveillance). Consenting participants complete an anonymous interview consisting of the core NHBS questionnaire and a local questionnaire tailored to South Florida. Local questions address topics such as crystal methamphetamine use, use of the Internet for high-risk behaviors, depression, and social support. Participants also receive anonymous HIV counseling and testing, as well as referrals to psychosocial and healthcare services.



[1] Lansky A, Abdul-Quader AS, Cribbin M, et al. Developing an HIV behavioral surveillance system for injecting drug users: the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System. Public Health Reports 2007; 122(suppl 1):48-55.