Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Behavioural data as an adjunct to HIV surveillance data
  1. G P Garnett1,
  2. J M Garcia-Calleja2,
  3. T Rehle3,
  4. S Gregson1,*
  1. 1Imperial College London, London, UK
  2. 2World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
  3. 3Human Sciences Research Council, Cape Town, South Africa
  1. Correspondence to:
 G P Garnett
 Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Imperial College London, St Mary’s Campus, Norfolk Place, London W2 1PG, UK; g.garnett{at}


Background: Second generation surveillance for HIV aims to improve the validity and utility of routine serial HIV prevalence data. It includes the collection of data on sexual behaviour and sexually transmitted disease prevalence.

Methods: This paper reviews the function of sexual behaviour data in HIV surveillance and the methods used to determine which behaviours are monitored and how changes in behaviour can be assessed.

Results: Sexual behaviour data provide a poor predictor of the future spread of HIV, but these data can provide corroboration of changes in HIV incidence and assist in attributing changes to particular aspects of risk. Significance tests should be used to assess changes in behaviour, but this requires transparent reporting of methods and sample sizes.

Conclusions: Collection of behavioural data will provide important retrospective information about the HIV epidemic progress and should not be neglected because of the focus on improving HIV sero-surveillance.

  • BSS, behavioural surveillance surveys
  • DHS, Demographic and Health Surveys
  • HIV, human immunodeficiency virus
  • STI, sexually transmitted infection
  • behavioural surveillance
  • HIV epidemiology
  • sexual behaviour

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • * On behalf of behavioural working group of UNAIDS Reference Group on Estimates Models and Projections: J M Garcia-Calleja, T Rehle, T Fowler, and N Grassly.

  • GPG thanks the MRC, Wellcome Trust and UNAIDS for Grant Support, SG thanks the Wellcome Trust for grant support.

  • Competing interests: none declared

  • Edited by N Walker, H Ward and R Miller