Expedited Biobehavioral Surveys and Data Availability

What is the problem?

Data is necessary for targeted service delivery. Key population (KP) programs need relevant and timely data about KPs—sex workers, men who have sex with men, transgender individuals, people who inject drugs, and people in prison and other closed settings—engaged and not engaged in services in order to target their services. Biobehavioral surveys (BBS) provide population-based information about KP risk behaviors, HIV prevalence and, importantly, the 90-90-90 cascade to inform service provision and policy. The time BBSs take to plan, implement, and make available the results for remediated actions, is a major limitation to their utility.

What is the tool? 

These tools aim to make BBS planning, implementation, and results provision efficient and timely.

1.       Key factors and interventions to consider for timely and successful implementation of the BBS are summarized in the Technical Considerations Fast Tracking Quality Key Population Biobehavioral Surveys (doc).

2.       Data management and cleaning for a BBS survey can take upwards of three months. It is therefore essential to begin these processes during data collection. This also allows problems to be addressed in near real-time and means that data analysis can begin soon after the end of data collection. The Priority Results Table (doc) is a minimum set of variables whose results should be shared with key stakeholders within two months of the end of data collection. The survey team should collaborate with stakeholders to identify context-specific modifications to the Priority Results Table, including of response categories and additional priority variables.

3.       The sample size and thus duration of BBS implementation can heavily influence the budget. The WHO Blue Book (external link) offers a budget template for costing BBS. As the bulk of the budget is associated with implementation, expediting BBS does not necessarily result in substantial cost savings as survey duration may remain unchanged.

Examples of outcomes related to use of BBS data: BBS data can be used to advocate for, and inform, the development of a Ministry of Health key populations policy and provide new insight into areas where key populations congregate. For example, a BBS in South Sudan revealed additional areas where service providers can find sex workers, through the geospatial mapping component of BBS. In Papua New Guinea, early release of BBS data prompted the use of social-network methods for reaching and testing KPs.

Additional Resources:

WHO BBS Survey Guidelines for Populations at Risk for HIV: Supplementary Materials (pdf)