Reading on Safe Mobility and HIV: Volume 1

30 Dec 2007


While migration in itself is not a vulnerability factor for HIV, it is the unsafe process of migration that creates conditions of vulnerability. By highlighting ways to make migration processes safer in every respect, the journal attempts to reduce the vulnerability of migrants to HIV.

Migration is one of many social factors that have contributed to the AIDS pandemic. Previous studies have shown that people who are more mobile, or who have recently changed residence, tend to be at higher risk of HIV infection than people in more stable living arrangements.

In Uganda, for example, people who have moved within the last five years are three times more likely to be infected with HIV than those who have lived in the same place for more than ten years. In a South African study, people who had recently changed their residence were three times more likely to be infected with HIV than those who had not.

It is not so much movement per se, but the social and economic conditions that characterize migration processes that put people at risk for HIV. The role of migration in the spread of HIV to rural Africa has conventionally been seen as a function of men becoming infected while they are away from home, and infecting their wives or regular partners when they return. However, the precise way in which migration contributes to the spread of HIV and other STD’s in rural areas is complex and not well understood.

Partly this is because few studies have considered both ends of the migration process - those who leave home as well as those who remain behind.

Understanding both ends of the migration spectrum has important implications for the development and implementation of intervention programmes, especially if it is possible to establish the relative risk of infection among different groups of migrant and non-migrant men and women. This study sets out to understand

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