Saturday, February 6, 2016

Population Size Estimation of Men Who Have Sex with Men in Tbilisi, Georgia; Multiple Methods and Triangulation of Findings

An accurate estimation of the population size of men who have sex with men (MSM) is critical to the success of HIV program planning and to monitoring of the response to epidemic as a whole, but is quite often missing. In this study, our aim was to estimate the population size of MSM in Tbilisi, Georgia and compare it with other estimates in the region.

In the absence of a gold standard for estimating the population size of MSM, this study reports a range of methods, including network scale-up, mobile/web apps multiplier, service and unique object multiplier, network-based capture-recapture, Handcock RDS-based and Wisdom of Crowds methods. To apply all these methods, two surveys were conducted: first, a household survey among 1,015 adults from the general population, and second, a respondent driven sample of 210 MSM. We also conducted a literature review of MSM size estimation in Eastern European and Central Asian countries.

The median population size of MSM generated from all previously mentioned methods was estimated to be 5,100 (95% Confidence Interval (CI): 3,243 ~ 9,088). This corresponds to 1.42% (95%CI: 0.9% ~ 2.53%) of the adult male population in Tbilisi.

Our size estimates of the MSM population (1.42% (95%CI: 0.9% ~ 2.53%) of the adult male population in Tbilisi) fall within ranges reported in other Eastern European and Central Asian countries. These estimates can provide valuable information for country level HIV prevention program planning and evaluation. Furthermore, we believe, that our results will narrow the gap in data availability on the estimates of the population size of MSM in the region.

Below:  MSM population size estimation study timeline

Different MSM population size estimates from various methods implemented in Tbilisi, Georgia 2014.
Various PSE methodsPoint estimateLower BoundUpper Bound
Network Scale-up581660144972519768597176
    Service utilization198011168759
    Unique object9886072648
Network based Capture-Recapture438531155654
Handcock RDS-based method26653449417
Wisdom of the Crowds15000500030000
MSM size—Median of all above estimates510032439088
MSM prevalence in adult population1.42%0.90%2.53%

Full article at:

  • 1Curatio International Foundation, Tbilisi, Georgia.
  • 2Global Health Sciences, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, United States of America.
  • 3Regional Knowledge Hub, and WHO Collaborating Centre for HIV Surveillance, Institute for Futures Studies in Health, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran.
  • 4Center for Information and Counseling on Reproductive Health-Tanadgoma, Tbilisi, Georgia. 

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