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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

Ali Regained Title in Historic Fight 40 Years Ago

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid