News / Africa

Migrants Still Plagued With High Rate of HIV/AIDS

People holding banners march to campaign for increased aids awareness in the streets of Nigeria's capital Abuja, December 1, 2006, on World Aids Day.
People holding banners march to campaign for increased aids awareness in the streets of Nigeria's capital Abuja, December 1, 2006, on World Aids Day.
Kim Lewis
A new effort is underway to help migrant workers in developed countries who are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. The International Organization for Migration announced a new program as part of World Aids Day activities on December 1. 

The IOM said migrants, particularly those from poverty-stricken countries, are more vulnerable to contracting such communicable diseases as HIV/AIDS and TB.  They are highly marginalized in society, lacking access to services, or they may be reluctant to use public services due to stigmatization. 

Reiko Matsuyama, a migration health officer for IOM in Pretoria, South Africa, explains that, "mobility contributes to the phenomenon of concurrent sexual partnerships, which has been identified by most of the U.N. agencies, which contributes to the HIV epidemic.  Also, in terms of access and also in health risks in general, involuntary and clandestine migration, such as people who are victims of trafficking or who are irregular migrants, who have high exposure to HIV through transactional sex, sexual violence, gender based violence, etc."

Matsuyama said that in the workplace, migrants are often left out of programs that are offered to permanent workers. 

"A lot of the times these work places have fantastic HIV programs, but only target permanent workers, and not contract workers, seasonal workers, temporary workers, who are mostly migrants. So it is also the marginalization of access to health services and workplace programs because of that migration status," said Matsuyama.

The IOM points out that, contrary to popular belief, migrants arrive in countries in relatively good health.  It is often the work environments and poor living conditions that contribute to their exposure to diseases such as HIV.  Matsuyama explained that South Africa is a good example of where this is occurring, because it has such a high percentage of migrants.

“This is in the mining industry, construction, agriculture, the farming communities etc.  What we have found is that actually migrants are self-selective.  They are job seekers.  They are looking for work," said Matsuyama. "So they wouldn’t travel unless they’re healthy to begin with, said Matsuyama who went to explain, “but then when they do travel and the factors that are in place while they are traveling, I mentioned a lot of the sexual violence that may occur - I’ve had anecdotal evidence of informal, cross-border traders being subject to gender-based violence, as well as the conditions that surround the working, living conditions.”       

Matsuyama cited results from a survey recently performed by the IOM in several farming communities of South Africa that included over 2,000 participating workers, of which half were women; the survey revealed that a very high percentage of sexual violence had taken place in the work environment.

“We found overall extremely high prevalence of 39.5%.  In some areas where they are very close to the border of Mozambique and Swaziland, we found over 49% prevalence.  So it’s the conditions that are surrounding the workplace.  There’s high risky sexual behavior, gender-based violence, alcohol abuse, and also food insecurity that makes people vulnerable in these communities,” she said. 

The IOM also works very closely with various local and regional organizations to help bring awareness of the health needs of migrants.

“Specifically in terms of the diaspora, we have specific projects and programs where we try to utilize diaspora engagement for development. . .  whether it’s in the field of health or education or other technical fields,” said Matsuyama. She also pointed out that diaspora engagement, in terms of health and education development, is vital to the overall efforts in addressing communicable disease such as HIV and TB among migrants.

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid