The Population Council and partners are conducting the first integrated biological and behavioral research in Zambia to determine the size and HIV risk factors of key populations.
Female sex workers (FSWs), men who have sex with men (MSM), and injecting drug users (IDUs) are key populations with a high risk of contracting and transmitting HIV. They are also deterred from seeking services because their behaviors are often stigmatized and even criminalized. Health care providers are often ill-equipped to address the specific and sensitive needs of these hard-to-reach groups, who are often unable to access health services.
The Council is conducting formative research and integrated biological and behavioral surveys to estimate the population size and distribution of female sex workers, men who have sex with men, and injecting and non-injecting drug users. The surveys will also measure HIV prevalence and incidence among these populations, and identify their social risks, such as stigma and discrimination, alcohol and drug use, lack of access to services, and the absence of a social support network. It is the first study to target three key populations in Zambia, and the first to combine biological and behavioral surveillance research using respondent-driven sampling among female sex workers.
The Council’s findings will provide national policymakers with objective evidence to inform HIV prevention, care, and treatment programs for key populations.