Evaluating national HIV prevention indicators: a case study in San Francisco

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ObjectivesTo field-test the availability, interpretability, and programmatic usefulness of 37 proposed national HIV prevention indicators (HPI) intended to evaluate community-level impact of HIV prevention efforts in San Francisco.MethodsHPI were defined for four populations (high risk heterosexuals, injecting drug users, men who have sex with men, and childbearing women) and for four domains (biological, behavioral, service, and socio-political). HPI were obtained from existing data sources only. Trends in HPI were examined from 1990 to 1997.ResultsExisting data provided 29 (78%) of the 37 proposed HPI; eight HPI were not available because California does not have HIV case reporting. Interpretation was limited for several HPI due to small sample size, inconsistencies in data collection, or lack of contextual information. Data providing behavioral HPI were scarce. HPI were consistent with historical patterns of HIV transmission in San Francisco but also highlighted new and worrisome trends. Notably, HPI identified recent increases in risk for HIV transmission among men who have sex with men.ConclusionsDespite limitations, the proposed national HPI provided evidence of the aggregate effectiveness of prevention efforts in San Francisco. Supplemental or local HPI are needed to fill data gaps, add context, and increase the scope and programmatic usefulness of the national HPI.

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