Developing a Web-Based HIV Behavioral Surveillance Pilot Project Among Men Who Have Sex with Men

Travis Sanchez*, Amanda Smith, Damian Denson, Elizabeth DiNenno , Amy Lansky
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

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© Sanchez et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Emory University, Rollins School of Public Health, 1518 Clifton Rd NE, Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Tel: 404-727-8403; Fax: 404-727-8737; E-mail:



A web-based HIV behavioral surveillance system (WHBS) has potential to collect behavioral data from men who have sex with men (MSM) not reached through traditional sampling methods. Six U.S. cities conducted a WHBS pilot in 2005-2007 to determine the feasibility to conduct a behavioral surveillance project entirely on the internet.


Three sampling methods of adult MSM on the internet were explored: direct marketing (DM) using banner advertisements; respondent-driven sampling (RDS) using peer recruitment; and venue-based sampling (VBS) using internet venues.


A total of 8,434 complete MSM surveys were obtained: 8,109 through DM, 130 through RDS, and 195 through VBS. By methods, enrollment rates ranged from 70-90%; completion rates ranged from 67-95%. DM obtained the largest proportions of racial/ethnic minority MSM (36%) and MSM 18-20 years (19%).


Only the DM method achieved a substantial number of complete MSM surveys. Successful implementation of an internet-based systematic sampling method may be problematic, but a convenience sample of MSM using banner advertisements is feasible and may produce useful and timely behavioral information from a large number of MSM.

Keywords: MSM, gay, internet, HIV, sexual behavior..