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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.

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