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J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2014 Jun;23(6):541-51. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2013.4654. Epub 2014 Apr 17.

Venue-based recruitment of women at elevated risk for HIV: an HIV Prevention Trials Network study.

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  • 11 FHI 360, Durham, North Carolina.



The challenge of identifying and recruiting U.S. women at elevated risk for HIV acquisition impedes prevention studies and services. HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) 064 was a U.S. multisite, longitudinal cohort study designed to estimate HIV incidence among women living in communities with prevalent HIV and poverty. Venue-based sampling (VBS) methodologies and participant and venue characteristics are described.


Eligible women were recruited from 10 U.S. communities with prevalent HIV and poverty using VBS. Participant eligibility criteria included age 18-44 years, residing in a designated census tract/zip code, and self-report of at least one high-risk personal and/or male sexual partner characteristic associated with HIV acquisition (e.g., incarceration history). Ethnography was conducted to finalize recruitment areas and venues.


Eight thousand twenty-nine women were screened and 2,099 women were enrolled (88% black, median age 29 years) over 14 months. The majority of participants were recruited from outdoor venues (58%), retail spaces (18%), and social service organizations (13%). The proportion of women recruited per venue category varied by site. Most participants (73%) had both individual and partner characteristics that qualified them for the study; 14% were eligible based on partner risk only.


VBS is a feasible and effective approach to rapidly recruit a population of women at enhanced risk for HIV in the United States. Such a recruitment approach is needed in order to engage women most at risk and requires strong community engagement.

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