One of the many challenges hindering the global response to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) epidemic is the difficulty of collecting reliable information about the populations most at risk for the disease. Thus, the authors empirically assessed a promising new method for estimating the sizes of most at-risk populations: the network scale-up method. Using 4 different data sources, 2 of which were from other researchers, the authors produced 5 estimates of the number of heavy drug users in Curitiba, Brazil. The authors found that the network scale-up and generalized network scale-up estimators produced estimates 5-10 times higher than estimates made using standard methods (the multiplier method and the direct estimation method using data from 2004 and 2010). Given that equally plausible methods produced such a wide range of results, the authors recommend that additional studies be undertaken to compare estimates based on the scale-up method with those made using other methods. If scale-up-based methods routinely produce higher estimates, this would suggest that scale-up-based methods are inappropriate for populations most at risk of HIV/AIDS or that standard methods may tend to underestimate the sizes of these populations.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- acquired immunodeficiency syndrome
- epidemiologic methods
- network sampling
- population size estimation
- social networks