Ethical considerations in HIV/AIDS biobehavioral surveys that use respondent-driven sampling: Illustrations from Lebanon
Respondent-driven sampling is especially useful for reaching hidden populations and is increasingly used internationally in public health research, particularly on HIV. Respondent-driven sampling involves peer recruitment and has a dual-incentive structure: both recruiters and their peer recruits are paid. Recent literature focusing on the ethical dimensions of this method in the US context has identified integral safeguards that protect against ethical violations. We analyzed a study of 3 groups in Lebanon who are at risk for HIV (injection drug users, men who have sex with men, female sex workers) and the ethical issues that arose. More explicit attention should be given to ethical issues involved in research implementing respondent-driven sampling of at-risk populations in developing countries, where ethical review mechanisms may be weak.