Office of AIDS
National HIV Behavioral Surveillance (NHBS)
NHBS is a national behavioral surveillance system headed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help state and local health departments in areas with high AIDS prevalence monitor selected behaviors and assess the use of prevention services in three groups at high risk for HIV infection. These groups include: men who have sex with men (MSM), injection drug users (IDU), and high-risk heterosexuals (HET). CDC, in collaboration with local and state health departments, is conducting NHBS in the U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) and independently funded city health departments with the highest AIDS prevalence across the nation.
Approximately 20 to 25 health department jurisdictions receive funding to conduct NHBS for each cycle.
NHBS is designed to maintain an ongoing surveillance system to ascertain the prevalence of HIV risk behaviors and HIV infection among groups at high risk for acquiring HIV infection to use in developing and directing national prevention services and programs. The objectives for NHBS are to 1) assess the prevalence of and trends in sexual and drug-use risk behaviors; 2) assess the prevalence of and trends in HIV testing behaviors; 3) assess the exposure to and use of prevention services, impact of prevention services on behavior, and identify prevention-service gaps and missed opportunities for prevention; and 4) assess the prevalence of and trends in HIV seroprevalence and assess behaviors associated with HIV serostatus. Additionally, with the assistance of community planning groups, local health department staff, and community stakeholders, among others, locally-specific prevention questions are developed and used to assess the availability and use of prevention services offered to MSM, IDU, and HET in each participating MSA. Local preventions questions enable project sites to effectively monitor the exposure to and use of local HIV/STD prevention programs or activities and characterize missed opportunities for prevention.
NHBS is advancing our understanding of the type and frequency of HIV risk behavior among groups at highest risk for HIV infection. Data on the specific sexual and drug use behaviors among MSM, IDU, and HET at risk for HIV infection, the assessment of access to and use of prevention services, and their HIV status provides valuable information for evaluating and guiding national and local prevention efforts. NHBS data is used by public health officials, HIV prevention planning groups, and scientists to identify needs, allocate resources, and to develop or improve prevention programs that target communities at high risk for HIV. As a result of this survey, communities are able to obtain, allocate, or shift prevention resources to those at-risk populations in need of targeted prevention.