Shepherd BE, Rossini AJ, Soto RJ, De Rivera IL, Mullins JI (2005). Sampling designs for HIV molecular epidemiology with application to Honduras. AIDS research and human retroviruses, 21(11), 907-14. (pubmed)
Proper sampling is essential to characterize the molecular epidemiology of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). HIV sampling frames are difficult to identify, so most studies use convenience samples. We discuss statistically valid and feasible sampling techniques that overcome some of the potential for bias due to convenience sampling and ensure better representation of the study population. We employ a sampling design called stratified cluster sampling. This first divides the population into geographical and/or social strata. Within each stratum, a population of clusters is chosen from groups, locations, or facilities where HIV-positive individuals might be found. Some clusters are randomly selected within strata and individuals are randomly selected within clusters. Variation and cost help determine the number of clusters and the number of individuals within clusters that are to be sampled. We illustrate the approach through a study designed to survey the heterogeneity of subtype B strains in Honduras.