Behavioural surveillance in Austria

Published: June 14, 2011

? Background: Austria reported, for the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) 2009 technical report on behavioural surveillance (BS)1, that the country has no system to obtain such
information. The objective of this study is the identification of existing sources in the
field of BS in order to develop recommendations for quality improvement.

? Method: A systematic review of formal and informal documents published since 2005, obtained through an Internet literature search, using Medline and general web-based search tools was performed in January 2011. Different combinations of search terms (HIV, AIDS, behavioural surveillance and HIV vulnerable populations) were performed. Only studies discussing BS indicators recommended by the ECDC1 within an Austrian context were included in this survey. The Austrian HIV cohort study does like many other European cohorts so far not collect behavioural data and could therefore not be included for this review.

? Results: 82 articles were found on Medline, but not a single article could be identified as relevant due to a lack of contextuality of the findings and arguments. However a general Internet literature search on Austrian websites identified 4 studies on youth, 3 studies on men who have sex with men (MSM) and one study on sex workers that could be used as relevant sources for BS within the Austrian context. Information on BS indicators such as knowledge, condom use during last intercourse, HIV testing as
well as awareness of prevention programmes can be obtained from this sources.

4 of these studies were part of projects funded by the European Union, 3 studies on youths and one study on MSM were founded by national grants. Table one shows the level of BS activities Austria reported in 2009 to the ECDC, as well as the level of activities by different institutions that were identified by this review and could serve as potential resources.

Conclusions: Despite the fact that Austria claims not having an existing system on behavioural surveillance, 8 studies with information on BS indicators were identified by this review. Relevant information for behavioural surveillance exists in grey literature and is available for populations such as youth, MSM and sex workers. Sustainable coordination of all relevant stakeholders in Austria should be enhanced in order to make better use of the existing information and a national concept on behavioural surveillance should help to improve the actual situation in order to provide needed information in the field of HIV behavioural surveillance.

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