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.