AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 387–402 | Cite as

From Networks to Populations: The Development and Application of Respondent-Driven Sampling Among IDUs and Latino Gay Men

  • Jesus Ramirez-Valles
  • Douglas D. Heckathorn
  • Raquel Vázquez
  • Rafael M. Diaz
  • Richard T. Campbell
Featured Methodological Article

One of the challenges in studying HIV-risk behaviors among gay men is gathering information from a non-biased sample, as traditional probability sampling methods cannot be applied in gay populations. Respondent-Driven Sampling (RDS) has been proposed as a reliable and bias-free method to recruit “hidden” populations, such as gay men. The aim of this study is to assess the feasibility and effectiveness of RDS to sample Latino gay men and transgender persons. This was carried out when we used RDS to recruit participants into a study that investigated community involvement on HIV/AIDS sexual risk behaviors among Latino gay and bisexual men, and transgender (male-to-female) persons in Chicago and San Francisco. The population coverage of RDS was then compared to simulated time-location sampling (TLS). Recruitment differences were observed across cities, but the samples were comparable. RDS showed broader population coverage than TLS, especially among individuals at high risk for HIV.


sampling chain referral RDS HIV gay men 



This study was funded by a National Institute of Mental Health grant MH62937-01 to Jesus Ramirez-Valles. The authors thank the San Francisco and Chicago participants for they precious contributions. We also thank other members of the research team: Dalia García, Andrea Heckert, Lisa Kuhns, Antonio Aguilar, and Jorge Sanchez. Special thanks to Barbara Marin for her support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jesus Ramirez-Valles
    • 1
    • 6
  • Douglas D. Heckathorn
    • 2
  • Raquel Vázquez
    • 3
  • Rafael M. Diaz
    • 4
  • Richard T. Campbell
    • 5
  1. 1.Community Health SciencesUniversity of Illinois-Chicago, School of Public HealthChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  3. 3.Institute for Health Research and PolicyUniversity of Illinois-ChicagoChicagoUSA
  4. 4.César Chávez InstituteSan Francisco State UniversitySan FranciscoUSA
  5. 5.Division of Biostatistics and EpidemiologySchool of Public Health, University of Illinois-ChicagoChicagoUSA
  6. 6.Community Health SciencesUniversity of Illinois-ChicagoChicagoUSA

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