Respondent driven sampling is an effective method for engaging methamphetamine users in HIV prevention research in South Africa.
BACKGROUND: South Africa, in the midst of the world's largest HIV epidemic, has a growing methamphetamine problem. Respondent driven sampling (RDS) is a useful tool for recruiting hard-to-reach populations in HIV prevention research, but its use with methamphetamine smokers in South Africa has not been described. This study examined the effectiveness of RDS as a method for engaging methamphetamine users in a Cape Town township into HIV behavioral research. METHODS: Standard RDS procedures were used to recruit active methamphetamine smokers from a racially diverse peri-urban township in Cape Town. Effectiveness of RDS was determined by examining social network characteristics (network size, homophily, and equilibrium) of recruited participants. RESULTS: Beginning with eight seeds, 345 methamphetamine users were enrolled over 6 months, with a coupon return rate of 67%. The sample included 197 men and 148 women who were racially diverse (73% Coloured, 27% Black African) and had a mean age of 28.8 years (SD=7.2). Social networks were adequate (mean network size >5) and mainly comprised of close social ties. Equilibrium on race was reached after 11 waves of recruitment, and after ≤3 waves for all other variables of interest. There was little to moderate preference for either in- or out-group recruiting in all subgroups. CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest that RDS is an effective method for engaging methamphetamine users into HIV prevention research in South Africa. Additionally, RDS may be a useful strategy for seeking high-risk methamphetamine users for HIV testing and linkage to HIV care in this and other low resource settings.
Kimani, SM; Watt, MH; Merli, MG; Skinner, D; Myers, B; Pieterse, D; MacFarlane, JC; Meade, CS
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