Many key populations have high-risk behaviors for HIV infection making them suitable for HIV vaccine efficacy trials. However, these behaviors may change when participants enroll into a trial. We used HIV simulated vaccine efficacy trials (SiVETs) nested within observational cohorts of fisherfolks and female sex workers in Uganda to evaluate this difference. We screened observational cohort participants for enrolment into SiVETs, until 572 were enrolled. Those not enrolled (n = 953) continued participation in the observational cohorts. We determined risk behaviors at baseline and at 1 year, assigned a numeric score to each behavior and defined composite score as the sum of reported behaviors. We compared changes in scores over 12 months. Both observational cohorts and SiVETs saw a significant decrease in score but greatest in the SiVETs. Investigators recruiting for trials from these populations should consider the likely effect of reduction in risk behaviors on incident HIV infection and trial statistical power.