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

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid