Survey of Today's Adolescent Relationships and Transitions (START)

Project Overview

logo: Survey  of Today's Adolescent Relationships and Transitions (START)

To respond to the increase in HIV infection, particularly among Black and Latino adolescent males who have sex with males (AMSM), CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH), with support from the Secretary’s Minority AIDS Initiative FundExternal, contracted with the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) to develop an innovative, social media-based recruitment and data collection project targeting gay, bisexual, and questioning males (13-18 years old) and trans youth (13-24 years old). Using the results from the confidential web-based survey and qualitative research, DASH will develop appropriate, effective HIV prevention materials to assist young gay and bisexual men and trans youth in accessing HIV prevention and testing resources.


social media icons and iphone

There are major gaps in evidence-based prevention tools designed to reach adolescent MSM and engage them in new, innovative HIV prevention efforts, such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

This national project is important because it will—

  • increase understanding of the unique individual, interpersonal, and social characteristics of AMSM,
  • provide appropriate context to HIV prevention efforts; including the preferences and behaviors of AMSM, and especially AMSM of color,
  • inform acceptability and adherence to promising HIV prevention strategies, and
  • translate these findings into HIV prevention tools and guidance for preventing HIV among adolescent men who have sex with men.

This research project will help DASH better understand the unique characteristics and behaviors of adolescent MSM in order to develop tools and guidance to inform them of HIV prevention strategies.

Project Time Line: 2016 - 2018

During year one of the projected three year study, NORC will develop and pilot test a web-based survey of AMSM—ages 13 to 18—with input from experts and a youth advisory board. A social media recruitment strategy will also be developed in partnership with Socially Authentic, a social media consulting firm.

In year two, the survey will be administered to a national sample of AMSM using social media platforms for recruitment (e.g., Facebook, Kik). Focus groups will be conducted with racially and ethnically diverse youth in different parts of the U.S. to supplement the survey data.

The final year involves focus groups with adults serving youth, and data analysis to help translate findings into tools and guidance for public health practitioners.

With the significant burden of HIV among AMSM, particularly among black youth, understanding the factors and behaviors associated with an increased risk of HIV diagnosis is key for developing targeted prevention strategies and reducing the burden of HIV.