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Using Social Networks to Recruit an HIV Vaccine Preparedness Cohort

Valente, Thomas W PhD*; Zogg, Jennifer B PhD*†; Christensen, Shawna MS*; Richardson, Jean DrPH*; Kovacs, Andrea MD; Operskalski, Eva PhD

JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes: December 2009 - Volume 52 - Issue 4 - p 514-523
doi: 10.1097/QAI.0b013e3181acff91
Epidemiology and Social Science

Objectives: To evaluate a social network approach to develop an adolescent cohort for HIV vaccine preparedness and investigate characteristics that influence recruitment.

Methods: We summarize baseline data from a prospective cohort study that included 4 sessions over 6 months. Fifty-nine HIV-infected adolescent and adult patients of a family-based HIV clinic named significant others and indicated willingness to involve them in this study. Sixty-two adolescent and adult significant others not known to be HIV infected were enrolled. Logistic regression was used to estimate factors associated with willingness.

Results: Participants identified 624 social network members including 276 adolescents (44%). Network member's awareness of the index's HIV positivity (P < 0.01) and older age (P = 0.05) affected willingness. Respondents were less willing to invite drug-risk alters (P = 0.006). Adolescents were willing to invite more adolescents than were adults (P < 0.0001). Adolescents younger than 18 years old reported fewer sexual and drug-using risk behaviors than expected.

Conclusions: HIV-infected patients are willing to recruit their social networks, provided concerns about disclosure of HIV status are addressed. Using social networks to identify and recruit adolescent populations is appropriate and feasible for vaccine preparedness activities, future vaccine trials, and other prevention programs, but procedures are needed to selectively identify and retain high-risk youth.

From the Departments of *Preventive Medicine; and †Pediatrics, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA.

Received for publication December 4, 2008; accepted May 5, 2009.

Parts of these data were presented at Sunbelt XXV, International Sunbelt Social Network Conference, International Network for Social Network Analysis, February 19, 2005, Redondo Beach, CA, and International HIV Vaccine Conference, September 2005, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Overall support for the Pediatric AIDS Clinical Trials Group (PACTG), now the International Maternal Pediatric Adolescent AIDS Clinical Trials Group (IMPAACT), was provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (U01 AI068632) and by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases or the National Institutes of Health. This work was supported by the Contract PACTG.31.FM.01, Collaborative Approach to HIV Vaccine Preparedness, Social and Scientific Systems, Inc, under Cooperative Agreement No. U02 AI41089, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Correspondence to: Thomas W. Valente, PhD, 1000 S Fremont Avenue, Bldg A-5133, Alhambra, CA 91803 (e-mail:

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.