Challenges of reaching hidden populations in HIV research in the Middle East

Jocelyn DeJong, American University of Beirut

This presentation will discuss the challenges of reaching hidden populations in AIDS research in the Middle East where HIV transmission tends to be concentrated among at-risk groups such as sex workers, men who have sex with men and injecting drug users who are highly stigmatized but also engaged in activities deemed illegal. The presentation will draw on the experience of conducting an HIV bio-behavioral survey in Lebanon of these three at-risk groups using respondent-driven-sampling as well as qualitative research conducted in the Middle East region on HIV/AIDS on people living with HIV. The challenges encountered are of both a methodological and ethical nature and have wider relevance to sampling and studying hidden or hard-to-reach populations in other developing country contexts. It will be argued that qualitative research –in terms of formative research, but also on perceptions of risk and service needs among these populations is critical to complement quantitative research.

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Presented in Poster Session 5: Contexts