News / Health

HIV/AIDS Afflicts Migrants Living in Wealthy Countries

Volunteers hold hands on the Pont des Arts pedestrian bridge in central Paris to create a human chain as part of World AIDS Day, December 1, 2012.
Volunteers hold hands on the Pont des Arts pedestrian bridge in central Paris to create a human chain as part of World AIDS Day, December 1, 2012.
Lisa Schlein
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is calling on governments to provide migrants with preventive care and treatment for HIV/AIDS.  To mark this year's World AIDS Day, IOM is focusing on the plight of migrants who, it says, are disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS in high-income countries.

This year's UNAIDS report on the global AIDS epidemic finds a sharp decline in HIV infections in low- and middle-income countries.  For the first time in the history of AIDS, the report indicates that an end to the epidemic may be in sight.  

But while the number of HIV infections is going down in the traditionally poor, less developed countries, it is rising in many of the more affluent nations.  Data shows the total number of people living with HIV has increased in the last 10 years in high-income countries in North America and Europe.

The International Organization for Migration says migrants are particularly badly affected by AIDS in high-income countries.  IOM spokesman Chris Lom says this is widely overlooked.

"Migrants and mobile populations, as you know, are at particularly high risk all over the world primarily because they face marginalization, exclusion and various barriers to accessing health promotion and health care, which indigenous people do not experience," said Lom.  

UNAIDS reports 45 countries, territories and areas impose some form of restriction on the entry of people living with HIV.  It says these discriminatory policies are not effective and do not protect public health.

IOM says there is a lack of awareness of migrants' vulnerability to HIV in high-income countries and this is reflected in the statistics.  In Canada, for example, it says the estimated infection rate of migrants from HIV-endemic countries is 8.5 times higher than among other Canadians.  

And a study in the United States between 2007 and 2010 shows the foreign-born population represents 13 percent of the total population, but more than 16 percent of new infections.  

IOM says in the European Union, over one-third of all HIV infections acquired through heterosexual transmission are among people who migrated to the region from a country with a generalized HIV epidemic.

IOM's Chris Lom says the highest incidence of HIV in the U.S., Canada and Europe is among people who come from Africa and the Caribbean, which are described as HIV-endemic countries.

"The background to this is partly because of irregular migration," Lom added.  "But, it is primarily because of lack information.   People not knowing their HIV status.  In addition, there are aspects, which include people tending to be diagnosed with the disease far later than people in high-income countries."  

Contrary to popular belief, IOM says migrants often get infected after their arrival in countries of destination.  The agency urges nations to reach out to migrants to ensure they receive access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.

UNAIDS reports 2.5 million people were newly infected with HIV in 2011 and an estimated 1.7 million died.  While these figures are high, UNAIDS says they are encouraging.  The numbers, it notes, show there now are 700,000 fewer new infections worldwide than 10 years ago, and 600,000 fewer deaths than in 2005.

The agency attributes much of the progress to the life-saving anti-retroviral medications used to treat those infected with HIV.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs