Prior research focusing on men who have sex with men (MSM) conducted in Buenos Aires, Argentina, used convenience samples that included mainly gay identified men. To increase MSM sample representativeness, we used Respondent Driven Sampling (RDS) for the first time in Argentina. Using RDS, under certain specified conditions, the observed estimates for the percentage of the population with a specific trait are asymptotically unbiased. We describe, the diversity of the recruited sample, from the point of view of sexual orientation, and contrast the different subgroups in terms of their HIV sexual risk behavior.
500 MSM were recruited using RDS. Behavioral data were collected through face-to-face interviews and Web-based CASI.
In contrast with prior studies, RDS generated a very diverse sample of MSM from a sexual identity perspective. Only 24.5% of participants identified as gay; 36.2% identified as bisexual, 21.9% as heterosexual, and 17.4% were grouped as "other." Gay and non-gay identified MSM differed significantly in their sexual behavior, the former having higher numbers of partners, more frequent sexual contacts and less frequency of condom use. One third of the men (gay, 3%; bisexual, 34%, heterosexual, 51%; other, 49%) reported having had sex with men, women and transvestites in the two months prior to the interview. This population requires further study and, potentially, HIV prevention strategies tailored to such diversity of partnerships. Our results highlight the potential effectiveness of using RDS to reach non-gay identified MSM. They also present lessons learned in the implementation of RDS to recruit MSM concerning both the importance and limitations of formative work, the need to tailor incentives to circumstances of the less affluent potential participants, the need to prevent masking, and the challenge of assessing network size.
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