Implementing Respondent-Driven Sampling to Recruit Women Who Exchange Sex in New York City: Factors Associated with Recruitment and Lessons Learned

  • Sidney A. CarrilloEmail author
  • Alexis V. Rivera
  • Sarah L. Braunstein
Original Paper


Respondent-driven sampling (RDS) relies on productive peer recruitment to capture hidden populations. Domestic studies have identified characteristics of productive recruitment among RDS samples of men who have sex with men and persons who use drugs, but not of women who exchange sex, a group vulnerable to HIV infection. We examined sociodemographic-, behavioral-, exchange-sex-, and protocol-related factors associated with recruitment among seeds (n = 25) and peers (n = 297) in the 2016 New York City National HIV Behavioral Surveillance Study cycle focused on women who exchange sex. Recruiter productivity was significantly associated with not having been recently incarcerated, lower rate of HIV testing, and larger exchange sex networks among seeds, and with HIV-prevention services usage among peers. We describe challenges and lessons learned from implementing RDS in this population. Our study identifies seed characteristics and protocol improvements researchers can utilize when implementing future RDS studies among women who exchange sex.


Respondent-driven sampling Recruitment Exchange sex HIV USA 



This work was made possible through the support of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [6NU62PS005086] National HIV Behavioral Surveillance (NHBS) system. We would like to thank our CDC colleagues, field staff, and study participants.


This study was funded by CDC (6NU62PS005086).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

10461_2019_2485_MOESM1_ESM.docx (16 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 17 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.HIV Epidemiology and Field Services Program, Bureau of HIV/AIDS Prevention and ControlNew York City Department of Health and Mental HygieneNew YorkUSA

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