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

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Kurdish service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs